How prison wine (pruno) is made using fruit and sugars

Thursday, January 19, 2023
Did you know elephants love to bury watermelons in the earth, leave them a bit and then come back when they have fermented and eat them to get drunk?

That's right, even the wisest of the Animal Kingdom loves a drop of hooch!

So you cannot blame a locked up prisoner for wanting to have a drink if the elephants are. 

But there are no liquor stores in jail so what to do?

Pruno, also known as prison wine, is an alcoholic beverage that is made by fermenting fruit, sugar, and other ingredients in a prison setting. 

It is typically made using fruits or vegetables that are readily available in the prison, such as apples, oranges, or potatoes. 

Pruno is often made in unsanitary conditions and can be dangerous to consume due to the risk of contamination. 

So how do prisoners make prison hooch? 

Resources are tight, they can't go and buy some yeast from the local brew shop can they?

The ingredients of prison hooch, also known as pruno, can vary depending on the availability of materials in the prison but prisoners will use:

  • Fruit or fruit juice, such as apples, oranges, apricots or grapes
  • Sugar or other sweeteners, such as ketchup sauce or jelly, jam, syrups
  • Bread or bread crumbs, which are used to provide a source of yeast for fermentation
  • Water
  • Any other ingredients that may be available, such as potatoes or raisins.

What is Pruno hooch made in?

The prison warden isn't exactly giving our fermenting drums to his wards, so the prisoners have to become quite inventive with how they ferment their 'lockup liquor'. 

Enter the plastic bag. 

making prison pruno wine

Pruno is often made in plastic bags or other containers. 
The ingredients are mixed together in the bag and then sealed, with small holes or slits cut into the bag to allow the CO2 gases to escape. 

The bags are then kept in a warm place, such as near a heating vent or in a sunny location, to encourage fermentation.

What is the yeast used in Pruno juice?

The yeast used in pruno is likely going to be found in bread that is supplied to the jail birds. 

Yeast can also come from fruits, and vegetables. 

The yeast found in pruno is not the same as the commercial yeast used in brewing and baking, it can have a range of strains that can cause an unpredictable fermentation process, and that can lead to some disgusting  tasteresults.

But if your goal is simply to get high, you're gonna drink your hooch regardless of how bad it tastes. 

pruno in a bag

Where do prisoners hide their Pruno so it can ferment?
It's not like you can brew your 'pennitary punch' out in the open - if the guards don't confiscate it, the other inmates will have a go for sure! So prisoners have to be very inventive with their hiding places. 

Pruno ain't called toilet wine for nothing,,,

How strong is prison wine? What's the alcohol ABV?

The alcohol content of pruno, also known as prison hooch, can vary depending on the recipe used and the fermentation conditions. 

However, it typically has a low alcohol content, usually less than 10% alcohol by volume (ABV). This is because the ingredients used to make pruno, such as fruit and sugar, do not contain high levels of sugar needed to produce high alcohol content. 

Additionally, given fermentation process can be quite unpredictable due to unsanitary conditions and the use of wild yeast, the alcohol content will vary.

making pruno hooch

How safe is prison hooch to drink? Do people get sick from it?

Pruno is not recommended as a drink to enjoy for Friday night drinks after work. 

Some of the health risks associated with drinking pruno include:

  • Food poisoning: Pruno is often made in unsanitary conditions, using ingredients that may not be cleaned properly, this can lead to the presence of bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
  • Alcohol poisoning: Due to the low quality of ingredients and the unpredictable fermentation process, the alcohol content of pruno can vary greatly and can be much higher than expected, leading to alcohol poisoning.
  • Nausea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal problems
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