Host–Guest Complexes HP-β-CD/Citrus Antioxidants: Exploratory Evaluations of Enhanced Properties in Biodegradable Film Packaging
The aim of this work was to exploit the antioxidant potential of molecules recovered during the pectin purification process of citrus lemon waste and to encapsulate them in stable pectin films, with a view to a green and circular economy process. Antioxidant molecules were recovered during the pectin purification process, further recovering matter from the waste. Seven molecules were identified and quantified, and the antioxidant power of the mixture and its stability over time was evaluated. To improve the stability of the bioactive fraction, this was complexed with 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD); indeed, this procedure increased their thermal stability from 120 °C up to 250 °C, as verified by thermogravimetry. Furthermore, the most promising complexes were studied under autoclave-like conditions (120 °C, 28 min) to simulate thermal sterilization. The antioxidants and HP-β-CD were combined in a pectin film, showing increased stability over time (up to three times) compared to uncomplexed antioxidants. This process represents a first step towards the development of applicable devices for the delivery of antioxidant molecules.