During the production of a traditional drink produced from the tubers of Cyperus esculentus L. also known as "horchata de chufa," a high quantity of by-products are generated. These by-products are rich with valuable biological compounds, hence, there is a need to report their extraction conditions for further use in food production as raw materials. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate and improve the conventional extraction process, applied for recovery of phenolic compounds, total flavonoids, and total antioxidant capacity from the by-products. Independent variables for extraction were: (i) Solvent type (mixtures of ethanol-water (v/v) at 0%, 25% and 50%); (ii) temperature (40, 50 and 60 °C), and (iii) extraction time (1, 2 and 3 h). The obtained results showed that solvent type, temperature, and time significantly influenced (p < 0.05) all investigated parameters. The highest content of total polyphenols (16.02 mg GAE/100 g of dry matter; d.m.), and total flavonoids (30.09 mg CE/100 g d.m.) was achieved by ethanol at 25% (v/v), after 3 h of extraction with temperatures of 60 °C and 50 °C, respectively. The highest value of antioxidant capacity (1759.81 µM Trolox equivalents/g d.m.) was observed with 50% aqueous ethanol (v/v), at 60 °C, and 3 h of extraction. From the obtained results, it can be concluded that the by-products of "Horchata de Chufa" are an important source of antioxidant bioactive compounds.
Keywords: antioxidant capacity; by-products; flavonoids; horchata de chufa; phenolic compounds; tiger nuts.