First, a disclaimer: People should not attempt to make their own prison wine. Unless they’re already in prison and just want to get hammered. Then it’s a viable option. Self-described “professional idiots” Brian Brushwood and Jason Murphy, long on curiosity and short on self-preservation instincts, attempt two different, time-honored recipes for prison wine (or “pruno”) in an episode of their web series The Modern Rogue. It gets pretty disgusting pretty quickly. One recipe seems fairly benign. The other seems like a surefire way to contract botulism.
The first (and more revolting) attempt involves taking peeled oranges and dumping them into a Ziploc bag along with some fruit cocktail, ketchup (for the vinegar), and sugar cubes. Mash that up into a paste, add some tap water, and heat it up for about 20 minutes before wrapping it up and putting it in a dark place. Bacteria, it seems, thrives on sugar and darkness. Now it’s time to play the waiting game. The bag has to be “burped” and reheated over the course of nine days. At the end, the putrid results have to be strained through cheesecloth, leaving behind a liquid that is both alcoholic and possibly lethal. Yummy.
Even Brushwood and Murphy won’t drink that stuff, so fortunately they have a second, safer recipe for prison wine. This one mainly boils down to adding yeast to orange juice. (But any fruit juice with sufficient sugar should suffice.) Champagne yeast works best, if inmates can get it. Aspiring prison vintners should keep in mind that this process releases carbon dioxide, so the bottles have to have valve stoppers or else they’ll explode. Balloons work fine for that, though. Cheers!