Effect of Storage and Drying Treatments on Antioxidant Activity and Phenolic Composition of Lemon and Clementine Peel Extracts

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Obtaining polyphenols from horticultural waste is an emerging trend that enables the valorization of resources and the recovery of value-added compounds. However, a pivotal point in the exploitation of these natural extracts is the assessment of their chemical stability. Hence, this study evaluates the effect of temperature storage (20 and −20 ◦C) and drying methods on the phenolic composition and antioxidant activity of clementine and lemon peel extracts, applying HPLC-DADMS, spectrophotometric methods, and chemometric tools. Vacuum-drying treatment at 60 ◦C proved to be rather suitable for retaining the highest antioxidant activity and the hesperidin, ferulic, and coumaric contents in clementine peel extracts. Lemon extracts showed an increase in phenolic acids after oven-drying at 40 ◦C, while hesperidin and rutin were sustained better at 60 ◦C. Hydroethanolic extracts stored for 90 days preserved antioxidant activity and showed an increase in the total phenolic and flavonoid contents in lemon peels, unlike in clementine peels. Additionally, more than 50% of the initial concentration was maintained up to 51 days, highlighting a half-life time of 71 days for hesperidin in lemon peels. Temperature was not significant in the preservation of the polyphenols evaluated, except for in rutin and gallic acid, thus, the extracts could be kept at 20 ◦C.