How To Make Prison Wine

Hopefully, you’ll never need to know how to make your own prison wine. But, if you ever find yourself behind bars, it could be worth knowing how to whip up a batch of homemade prison punch to make the days pass by just that little bit faster.

Keep it for yourself or share it among your fellow inmates to instantly improve your reputation. 

As prisons ban all alcoholic beverages, inmates often have to get creative to find the right ingredients to have the desired effect. It’s made using ingredients that can be found in most prisons. This improvised form of prison wine is often called “pruno.”

There’s a whole host of different pruno recipes floating around out there. But most prison hooch recipes involve the use of a sealable/ziplock plastic bag and take just a couple of days until it’s fermented enough to enjoy. Here’s how to make your own, if you ever need to:

What you’ll need:

  • 10 oranges, peeled and cut
  • 10 apples, soft, browned, and cut
  • 1 cup of raw sugar
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 16oz of warm water
  • 1 packet of raisins
  • 1 cup of warm water


1. Mash the fruit cocktail, apples, raisins, and oranges in a 1-gallon Ziploc bag, being careful not to pop the bag. When the fruit has been pounded into a pulp, add the raw sugar and stir well.

2. Fill the bag with 16 ounces of warm water and close it. For 15 minutes, immerse the sealed bag in a sink of warm water.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the yeast packet, the cup of warm water, and 3 teaspoons of raw sugar, and whisk until frothy. Place this in the bag of mushy fruit and keep it in a dark and dry place.

4. Pour warm (not boiling) water over the bag every day for seven to eight days, then wrap it in a towel and store. The yeast will die if the bag is allowed to cool.

5. The bag will bloat up from the carbon dioxide as part of the fermenting process, so you’ll need to burp it by opening the bag and expelling the carbon dioxide. Repeat this method every day until the bloating is gone.

6. Strain the contents using a cheesecloth and store in an appropriate bottle or container- and enjoy! Your booze should last at least a month or two and can provide a rather strong buzz due to its high alcohol concentration.

What does prison wine taste like?

This will all depend on what ingredients you use, how you manage the fermentation process, and your own personal taste. However, many ex-convicts report a tangy, bitter, or tart taste that leaves a bad odor on the breath.

Unless you have a very strong stomach, you’re going to struggle sitting back and sipping prison wine like it’s a regular cocktail. Some people recommend combining it 50:50 with lemonade or sparkling water to ease the tang.

Another hack is adding a couple of artificial sweeteners or Stevia, as this can help to even out the bitter aftertaste. 

How much alcohol is in prison wine?

Temperature conditions, ingredients, and fermenting time are some key aspects that can affect the ABV of pruno or jail hooch, which can range from as little as 2% to as much as 14%, the equivalent to some strong, gas-station wine.

A dose that potent will knock you out, which is probably your intention.  The alcohol potency is determined by the amount of sugar available for fermentation.

Is it safe to drink prison wine?

You’ve probably come across stories from US prisons about inmates contracting botulism as a result of making their own DIY alcohol in prison.

If botulism was present, it would have been transmitted by unclean and un-sanitized surroundings, not by the process itself. So long as you use clean brewing equipment and sanitize using cleansers like sodium percarbonate, you should be safe. 

It’s important to note the homebrew does not cause methanol overdose. Making hooch is a ‘cheap’ and efficient technique to produce alcohol. Recognize that the quality of booze you produce can be influenced by a lot of factors.

Is it worth making wine in prison?

You can make good money behind bars if you know how to brew pruno that is drinkable. A half-gallon can be purchased for up to $25 in prison.

You can also fit five gallons into a pair of jeans. Making booze is a fun side hustle. But to consistently produce good batches of pruno and get away with it, you need to know exactly what you’re doing.

There are numerous ways to get caught while brewing your own pruno. Burping it at the wrong time can result in a stench that the guards will not be able to overlook- yes, it’s that bad. Putting it in the wrong place to cook can also get you in trouble. 

According to Wikipedia, “correctional officers confiscate pruno whenever and wherever they find it. In an effort to eradicate pruno, some wardens have gone as far as banning all fresh fruit, fruit juices, and fruit-based food products from prison cafeterias”.

So, it’s safe to say that prison guards are definitely aware of the pruno situation, and are actively trying to stop inmates from brewing it.

It’s important to remember that alcohol is not permitted in prison, so you would be breaking the rules, and possibly the law by making pruno.

If you get caught, you run the risk of punishment such as chores within the prison or even extra time added onto your sentence. Proceed at your own risk. 

Christina Day
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