Hot water blanching at 80 °C for 3 min can be used as a novel pre-treatment step in pomegranate peel to preserve the integrity of the phytochemical content within the peel extracts by lowering or inactivating enzymes such as polyphenol (PPO) oxidase and peroxidase (POD) that are responsible for the break-down of phytochemicals within the peel. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of hot water blanching pre-treatment on yield, bioactive compounds, antioxidants, enzyme inactivation, and antibacterial activity of 'Wonderful', 'Acco', and 'Herskawitz' pomegranate peel extracts. We used a variety of spectrophotometric-based assays and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based approach to characterize and quantify metabolites within the peel extracts. Blanching significantly (p < 0.05) reduced PPO activity in all peel extracts, with the highest PPO reduction in 'Herskawitz' peel extracts at 0.25 U/mL. Furthermore, higher antioxidant activity in 'Herskawitz' blanched peel extracts using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl hydrazyl (DPPH) antioxidant activity, ferric ion reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), and 2,2-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid (ABTS) radical scavenging activity at 567.78 ± 9.47 µmol Trolox/g DM, 800.05 ± 1.60 µmol Trolox/g DM, and 915.27 ± 0.61 µmol Trolox/g DM, respectively, was noted. 'Herskawitz' blanched peel extracts were recorded with the lowest minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of 80 µg/mL for Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis and Gram-negative Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria strains. A total of 30 metabolites were present in 'Acco' and 'Herskawitz' peel extracts and were tentatively identified after LC-MS profiling. This study demonstrates that blanched peel extracts from 'Herskawitz' cultivar have great potential for commercial use in value-added products in the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, and pharmacological industries.
Keywords: antimicrobial activity; cultivar variation; hot water blanching; phytochemical content; pomegranate fruit peel; value addition.