Food waste management plays a central role in the circular economy. To our knowledge, only a few studies have investigated the use of unsold fruit and vegetables from supermarkets as a substitute source for the extraction of natural colorants. Thus, the aim of this paper was to suggest a green, tailored protocol that avoids the use of organic solvents for the recovery of betalains from unsold red beets for use as a food colorant. The recovery of such pigments was carried out by a tailored enzymatic mix, blended considering the polysaccharide composition of the beetroot cell wall; thus, it consisted of: cellulase (37%), xylanase (35%), and pectinase (28%). The enzyme-assisted extraction protocol was optimized, and the most suitable conditions (in terms of pigment yield and color attributes) for the recovery of betalains from unsold beets appeared to be: 25 U/g total dose of enzymatic mix, temperature 25 °C, and processing time 240 min.
Keywords: betalains; color attributes; extraction yield; red beet; tailored enzymatic mix.