How To Make Pruno Wine

Pruno wine, or prison wine, originated in prisons, where it is made from fruit, sugar, bread and other easily available ingredients. As you might expect, the ingredient list can vary widely, since pruno wine is made using available sources, whatever they are. This recipe uses more standard ingredients. Typically made discreetly in a plastic bag, pruno wine is not known for its flavor. Its alcohol content by volume can range from two percent to fourteen percent, depending on the ingredients used and the time spent fermenting. This unique beverage should not be made for its taste, though it makes an interesting experiment. Here's how to make pruno wine:
Ingredients and supplies:

  • Fresh fruit of any kind (for example, one dozen oranges)
  • 1 can of fruit cocktail
  • About 16 ounces of water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 packets of ketchup
  • Yeast or moldy bread (optional)
  • Large Ziplock bag or trash bag with rubber bands or other method for closure
  • Strainer (optional)
  1. Smash the fruit. Reduce the fruit to a pulp in your plastic bag. This fruit will fuel the fermentation process, but it must be broken down into small pieces first. Pour in the can of fruit cocktail, and knead the mixture with your hands until the fruit breaks down into a lumpy, paste-like mixture. This could take fifteen to twenty minutes of kneading, depending on the fruits used.
  2. Add water. Now, add about 16 ounces of room-temperature water. Shake the bag to mix the water with the fruit, and then seal it. Place the bag in the window or in any other warm place to give the fruit a chance to ferment. In a prison environment, the makers of pruno wine usually keep it in the bed, where it will stay warm especially at night. Allow the ingredients of pruno wine to ferment for at least three days.
  3. Add sugar. Now, open the bag of fruit carefully. Add the sugar and the ketchup packets. Wait for the sugar to dissolve in the water, and then knead and mash your bag for about fifteen minutes. You can use a cup and a half or regular sugar, or choose the more 'authentic' method of about 50 sugar cubes. To speed up the fermentation process, you can add baker's or wine yeast, or a slice of moldy bread.
  4. Let the mixture ferment. Reseal the bag, and keep it in a warm spot for 6 more days to allow it to ferment. Open the bag slightly every day to release pent-up gases; if not, the bag could burst.
  5. Open the bag. You may wish to have a clothespin for your nose during this step. By this stage in the process, the fruit will be moldy, and it will smell gross. Remove the remaining chunks of fruit and any large areas of mold. Strain the mixture as best as you can, though the most authentic method does not involve strainers, since they would be unavailable in a prison environment.

The taste of pruno wine can vary widely depending on the ingredients used, particularly your choice of fruit. Be aware that pruno wine requires a strong stomach; it is not the best-tasting drink in the world. Depending on how long you've let the bag ferment, it can range from a weak drink to a potent alcoholic mixture. This non-traditional approach can be an interesting experiment, though it is not recommended for routine drinking.


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