Food & Drink

How to make your own prison wine

conal with his prunoThis was a New Year’s Eve for partyers, starting on a Thursday night and leading into a multi-night, celebratory weekend that put lame, midweek Dec. 31s to shame. And just maybe you woke up Monday and stared into those bloodshot eyes in the mirror, vowing to do it differently in 2010. Go out less, workout more, maybe even take up a hobby. Here’s one worth a try: making some good old, 25-to-life, brewed-in-a-bag prison wine.

Brewing at home usually requires a pricey set-up and lots of time—usually just enough to scare off the casual brewer. Prison wine, or “pruno” does not. The stuff’s been made since the dawn of law enforcement and comes from the even older tradition of home brewing. Pruno can be made from almost anything, but it relies on the simple brewing principle that sugar + yeast + time = alcohol.

Traditionally, oranges and grapes are the preferred sugar in the equation, and moldy bread is the yeast (given that yeast packets probably aren’t sold at the prison commissary). But we’d rather not poison anyone with home-made botulism, so we’ll use the store-bought stuff, since we can go out and all. Also, since the genuine issue pruno generally is brewed on the DL, conditions are far from sanitary. We’ve added a few steps to replace just dumping everything into a trash bag and letting it molder under the bed. So, follow our advice, use the recipe below, and you’ll be imibing like a con in under a week.


10-12 oranges (or in a pinch, other sweet items you have around, like grape jelly or cake frosting)
1 large can of fruit cocktail (for a nice finishing flavor)
1 packet of dried yeast
3 cups of sugar
1 one-gallon plastic bag with strong seal


Peel all of the oranges and put them in the plastic bag. Add the can of fruit cocktail and squeeze out all of the excess air while securely closing the bag. Now mash up the fruit inside by squeezing the bag. This is the most labor-intensive part, and if you’re not careful, you’ll pop open the bag and have a sticky mess. Try to squeeze the fruit toward the bottom of the bag to avoid spills.

Once all the fruit is completely mashed up, add the sugar and mix well.

Now if you were really in prison, you’d forgo the next part. Since we want a safe and drinkable brew at the end, we’re going to have to sterilize the fruit mash. Put the bag of mash in a small pot and fill it with cold water so that most of the bag is covered. Next, place that pot in a larger pot of water and place it on the stove. The extra pot is needed to keep the bag from melting to the bottom. For all of you bakers out there, we’re essentially double-boiling.

conal double boiling the mix

Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and boil for 20 to 30 minutes: long enough to kill the bacteria that would ruin the batch later on. After the bag has been sterilized, you’ll need to cool it down. You can dunk it in an ice bath or chuck it in the freezer for a half-hour. Make sure to cool the mash down to room temperature before moving to the next step.

The Magic Begins
Now to start a beautiful chemical reaction that will turn our sugary pulp into a high-octane alcoholic beverage. We are going to add yeast, a microbe whose sole purpose is to eat sugar and create ethanol. Most yeast needs to be “proofed,” that is, the yeast needs to be awakened. To do this, fill a small bowl or cup with warm water and add a few teaspoons of sugar. Add the contents of the yeast packet and wait. After a few minutes the mixture will start bubbling—this is the sign of a healthy batch of yeast. Once the mixture is frothy, it’s ready to be added to the mash.

Carefully pour the yeasty water into the bag of prison wine, seal the bag and mix it up. You did remember to cool it down, right? Otherwise, the temperature will kill our little alcohol-producing friends.

The Waiting Game
Within an hour, the bag should start expanding. That’s the yeast feasting on the sugars inside, creating alcohol and carbon dioxide as a by-product. You’ll need to tend to your bag in the first twelve hours by opening a small portion of the seal and releasing the carbon dioxide as it builds up. If you don’t pay attention, the bag will pop and you’ll have one terrible mess. Store the bag in a cool, dry, dark place.

conal's exploding bag

To keep the bag from tipping over, place it in a large bowl. After a couple of days you’ll notice your batch is inflating less and less, which means the carbon dioxide production is decreasing. The yeast is running out of sugar and slowing down. Periodically mix up the bag to spread the yeast throughout. After about five days you’ll notice that essentially all reaction stops, with little or no carbon dioxide being produced. What we have left is a gallon bag of fruit mash and if you’re lucky, tons of alcohol.

The Final Steps
The last thing we have to do is separate our fruit from our booze. Pour the bag through a colander and collect the liquid in a bowl. Get a large spoon and squeeze the mash to release as much liquid as possible. Throw out the mash when done.

What’s left in the bowl is your prison wine. It’s ready to drink (in theory) but it’ll smell and taste pretty strange. To make it more palatable, pour the pruno into a pitcher and let it sit in the fridge overnight. After the remaining yeast in the mixture sinks to the bottom, pour off the liquid into another container and throw out the yeast (or drink it—it is very nutritious). The final result will be something akin to a very poorly mixed screwdriver. Toss in some ice and enjoy while you reflect on all the poor life choices that got you to this point.

conal pitcher


      • Bj_walker_007

        like its posted, just double boild the bag for half hour and you wont catch shit, but its unlikly youll get botulism anyway. You gotta stay drunk as hell cause botch is a very nausiating sick, equal to god taking a wet shit on your soul.

        • The Gray Adder

          Or figure out a way to separate the yeast from the mold. OR, you could leave something sugary out and catch yourself some wild yeast from the air. The trick is being able to culture the stuff while in stir. Do that, and you’ll be the biggest hero in the joint.

  1. Nelson

    I love this recipe! My only thought is to do the double boil before it goes in the bag. Otherwise you are probably adding some chemicals with hard to spell names. Seriously, thanks for this awesome recipe…great post.

    • Any fruit water sugar and bread all is usually able to get in jail or prison they stopped selling pizza kits because people where using the tomatoes paste stuff to make hooch.

  2. redoutlaw

    Man I been making that stuff for a long time,,not that way though,all we had was trash bag ouranges,suger,water,yeast.
    I have heard that in time the ourang peeling can produce yeast.Never tried that though.

  3. Convict

    I am makin’ this shit right now…ive been to prison and never got to “double boil” i started this on Christmas eve..will respond in a couple days… used 5 large oranges 5 apples and a can of sweet peeches…hope it works. i used my lil mixer that i make salsa in to save time from squishing. after i blended i still mashes a minute to mix.i cant wait to get poisoned !

    • i just got out of prison & all we used was 15 oranges, 12 sodas(flat), 9 bags of candy & 10 packs of grape jelly. crush up oranges in a bag let sit for 4 days(w/a little heat on them) after they start to ferment, melt candy&jelly into the flat sodas & add mixture to the fermenting oranges. let sit for 4-5 days with a little heat on bag ei..have bag sitting in warm water. then strain & drink:) without the yeast it tastes much better.

  4. EASIER WAY TO MAKE PRUNO PRISON STYLE! I just got out NKSP in Delano, easier way to make pruno without using Oranges and without straining or filtering the pulp.

    1. Buy Apple Juice & Orange Juice(2 Large Sizes)
    2. 1 Whole RED Apple
    3. Jar (to fit the apple in)
    4. a trash bag
    5. Large Bag of Sugar
    6. A Clean Sock or Some type of Cloth to put the apple in

    Step 1. Grab your Apple, smash it and throw it in the Jar, add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let it sit for 4-7 Days depending on how it smells, if it smells like alcohol or yeast its probably ready. The longer it sits the better. Another tip is that its good to feed it sugar during its waiting process. This is also known as the “KICKER”, so once your kicker is ready, continue to the next step.

    Step 2. Throw your juice inside the trash bag, tie the bottom of the trash bag with a knot, and add your juice inside.

    Step 3. Add 1/3, one third of sugar from the large sugar bag, not 1/3 of a cup, one third of the bag!

    Step 4. Grab your kicker and throw it inside of a sock or cloth and tie the ends off with a knot.

    Step 5. Throw your kicker inside of the bag of Juice and Sugar and tie a knot at the opening of the bag.

    Step 6. Now, place your bag in a bucket, toilet, bath tub or sink and run hot water over it, and let it sit in hot water. Let it sit in hot water for 2-4 days. IMPORTANT: The bag Will BLOW UP WITH AIR/GAS! So you MUST untie the KNOT and take that AIR out or your bag will explode! So KEEP AN EYE ON IT!!!! This step is called “Burping” or “burp”

    Step 7. Feed your bag everyday with SUGAR! Except for the First Day! on the second day feed it with more sugar, another 1/3 of the bag! and the next day another 1/3! until that bag of sugar is gone!

    Step 8. Once the bag stops blowing up with Air/Gas, once you stop burping the bag the PRUNO is ready! No filtering is required, drink as is. Chilled, hot, warm, drink till you pass out and vomit all over yourself! Best of luck!

    TIP: You can reuse your kicker over again! No need to remake another one. Keep it inside your jar and feed it sugar until your ready to make another batch of pruno.

      • I know I’m necro posting here, but I found the article tonight and might not be the only one still reading. The apple skin is where the yeast comes from. Yeast grows naturally there. It’s a different strain than your typical bread yeast, but it’s yeast. Traditionally, hard apple cider is made with the yeast that grows on the apples, or introduced from related fruit (the person I was learning all of this from said that crabapples are popular yeast donors, but didn’t say why that is!)

  5. so i have used some moldy bread about 3 pieces, 1 liter of cranberry juice, 1 liter of water, some cut up fruit and, about 1/2 cup of sugar i keep it warm and burp it every once in a while will this work

    let me know [email protected]

  6. You guys are retarded if you think bread or if only moldy bread works lol you can just all slices of bread in the mix of sugar and whatever fruit you are using I’ve done it plenty of times in jail and prison there is still yeast left in the bread enough to get the job done 1 gallon use like 3 pieaces of bread or less if you like I’ve used donuts in jail dunking sticks hostess brand treat I’ve used jolly ranchers for sugar when not having packages of sugar in jail it will work if you don’t have any yeast so what I am using now is a gallon can of sliced pears smashed all the pears up by hand then took a gallon Hwa in punch bottle poured all of that into it then added sugar I used like 2 cups and 3 slices of white bread and one packet of ketchup and filled rest of container up with water leaving a little bit of room so I can let the pressure out and it don’t blow up on me second day cooking it now and I have had to let the pressure out twice today plan on letting it go for 2 more days maybe three depending on how it looks and smells don’t want to cook it to long or it will turn bad in you I would not let it go more than 7 days that’s pushing it. Any questions and I’ll explain and if you still don’t believe bread don’t work it’s almost impossible to get yeast in prison and is impossible to get yeast in the county jail.

  7. Rene Yurashunas

    Lol I love your last remark… about choices. . Anyways I’m trying to make it with sour grapes… not edible and they were given to me, I made bread with the kids last week, and I have extra yeast so what the hell.

  8. Aaron Phillips

    Triple Trash Bag and I made mine before looking at this I ailed it lmao jams boiled fruit and all started from trying to make juice to Fast Christmas Wine It Is

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