Orange is one of the most worldwide produced and consumed fruit, and Brazil is responsible for about 50% of the world production of orange juice. The high production of orange juice implies in large amounts of residues, being the peel, the principal by-product generated and underutilized. However, citrus fruits, particularly orange, are commonly regarded as the most complex natural source of carotenoids, and its peel by-product may also represent an interesting source of this antioxidant compound. Moreover, the carotenoids from the orange peel may be used as substituent to the artificial pigments by the food industry. For this, it is of great importance to characterize the native carotenoids composition of this matrix, including the carotenoid esters. Another important point to be considered, is related to the extraction process, which is normally made using conventional organic solvents (COSs). However, it is well known that these solvents are highly volatile and toxic, so a less polluting viable alternative can be promising, such as the ionic liquids (ILs). Thus, the main objective of the present work is to characterize the native carotenoid composition, including the esters, of the orange peel, from conventional extractions using acetone or ethyl acetate, and an alternative extraction using ILs.
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