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CORK & OLIVE: How to Make Pruno (Prison Wine)

June 29, 2008

In Pruno Veritas. What is Pruno? In prisons, it is cellblock wine made from fruit, sugar and, often, moldy bread. It is potent, easy to brew and best drunk with nose pinched. One writer describes it is “a full-bodied wine with a bouquet redolent of moldy peaches and a finish that can evoke everything from all-purpose bathroom cleaner to uric acid.”

The most famous recipe for jailhouse pruno comes from Jarvis Masters, a death row inmate at San Quentin who won a PEN Award for his 1992 poem “Recipe for Prison Pruno.

Recipe for Prison Pruno

Take orange peels, fruit cocktail and water and heat it for 15 minutes in your sink with hot water. Keep mixture warm with towels for fermentation. Leave hidden and undisturbed for two days. Add sugar cubes and 6 teaspoons of ketchup. Heat for 30 minutes. Wrap and leave undisturbed for three more days. Reheat daily for 15 minutes for three more days. Skim and Serve.

The poem ends: “May God have mercy on your soul.”


In his 1994 Book “You are Going to Prison” by Jim Hogshire, Jim offers tips on making prison wine:

“Prison hooch can be made in your cell toilet (as long as you don’t mind using other people’s toilets or finding some other solution), or more often, in plastic trash bags. The recipe is simple: make a strong bag by double or triple-bagging some plastic trash bags and knotting the bottoms. Into this, pour warm water, some fruit or fruit juice, raisins or tomatoes, yeast, and as much sugar as you can get ahold of (or powdered drink mix). Now tie off the top of the bag, letting a tube of some kind protrude so the thing won’t explode while it gives off carbon dioxide. Now hide the bag somewhere and wait at least three days. A week is enough.

If you choose to brew your wine in your cell, you’ll need to hide it behind your bunk and do what you can to hide the smell. Burning cinnamon as incense is one way. Spraying deodorant around is another. Normal wine takes at least a month if not six weeks to make at all properly — but in hell, this is all you get.

One of the problems you have right away with making wine in prison is the difficulty getting yeast. It’s a strictly forbidden item and you might not be able to get any. In this case you can improvise the by using slices of bread, preferably moldy (but not dry) and preferably inside a sock for easier straining.

Perhaps the Cork & Olive franchisees might chip in and buy Michael and Stephanie each a copy of Hogshire’s “You are Going to Prison.” It might be a fitting parting gift.

RELATED STORY: FranWorst.Com Prison Wine Franchises Available

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One Response to “CORK & OLIVE: How to Make Pruno (Prison Wine)”

  1. Sorry says:

    They aren’t worth it!

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