How to make potentially lethal prison wine

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I rather like this guide. The money quote: " It’s hard to believe this started out as a bag of fruit snacks and grape juice. Yet somehow these ingredients went from sweet and child-like to harsh and alcoholic quicker than Lindsay Lohan."


We made a homebrew wine during a botany course at university (releases were signed), albeit without weeks-old, fingernail-peeled potatoes. I wonder if that guy survived the beat down once everyone recovered?

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Pairs well with Fugu


“Steve, Don’t Eat It” was my first thought too. My favorite quote:

Anthony: “I would drink this in prison.”

Steve: “I would drink this in high school!”


tl:dw. Can someone explain how you can ferment alcohol with bacteria? I thought it was the sole territory of yeast. Bacteria add to sourdough, but not to beer. And I thought botulin bacteria were anaerobic and needed a very sealed environment like a mason jar, and could be easily killed by acid, sugar or alcohol, all present in pruno.

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Assuming there’s a difference.


Well I guess everything needs a drama angle now. How many people have “gotten botulism and died” from prison wine? Put my $5 on none…

Anyway, one of my favorite poems:

Take ten peeled oranges,
Jarvis Masters, it is the judgment and sentence of this court,
one 8 oz. bowl of fruit cocktail,
that the charged information was true,
squeeze the fruit into a small plastic bag,
and the jury having previously, on said date,
and put the juice along with the mash inside,
found that the penalty shall be death,
add 16 oz. of water and seal the bag tightly.
and this Court having, on August 20, 1991,
Place the bag into your sink,
denied your motion for a new trial,
and heat it with hot running water for 15 minutes.
it is the order of this Court that you suffer death,
wrap towels around the bag to keep it warm for fermentation.
said penalty to be inflicted within the walls of San Quentin,
Stash the bag in your cell undisturbed for 48 hours.
at which place you shall be put to death,
When the time has elapsed,
in the manner prescribed by law,
add 40 to 60 cubes of white sugar,
the date later to be fixed by the Court in warrant of execution.
six teaspoons of ketchup,
You are remanded to the custody of the warden of San Quentin,
then heat again for 30 minutes,
to be held by him pending final
secure the bag as done before,
determination of your appeal.
then stash the bag undisturbed again for 72 hours.
It is so ordered.
Reheat daily for 15 minutes.
In witness whereof,
After 72 hours,
I have hereon set my hand as Judge of this Superior Court,
with a spoon, skim off the mash,
and I have caused the seal of this Court to be affixed thereto.
pour the remaining portion into two 18 oz. cups.
May God have mercy on your soul.


Using fruit is cheating…

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I went scrounging for that Sneeze link, as the video played out, once I saw how they were using actual fruit and nary a mention of mold–and then they didn’t even drink it!!?!11!??!!!

Internet “food” experimentation has taken a turn for the timid in the past decade+, since "Steve, Don’t Eat It"s heyday… There’s a premium now on seeming scientific and laboratorial, a bunch of smart, responsible bros. Maybe it’s necessary on account of how our nation’s stupidity level has been so grossly exposed by its political choices lately…

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Now I want to eat tree brain.


Hmm. I think I’ll add “making alcoholic beverages from scratch” to my “skills to learn, just in case” list.
You never know.

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There’s ambient yeast everywhere. I’m more familiar with lambic than pruno, but if you let fermentation happen with whatever is in the air, you’ll have a mix of yeast and bacteria. In the best case, the yeast gives you a decent amount of alcohol, and the bacteria can give you some pleasing acids.

Depending on what organisms get a foothold in your pruno, you might have something drinkable, or you might not. Here’s Stamets describing possible issues with kombucha - I imagine the scenario with pruno is similar but worse (same non-selective medium, more opportunity for contamination)

One of the major problems with trying to culture Kombucha at home is the fact that the sugar medium is non-selective. The culturing of yogurt or sourdough can be done with a modicum of success, because the milk and flour media selectively favors the desired organisms. Not so with sugar, tea and water which is an "open slate" for the culturing of most microorganisms - including pathogenic Aspergillus, Candida, Cryptococcus, and Fusarium species. The first week is the most critical time during which contaminants in Kombucha race for dominance.

But how would an anaerobic bacteria susceptible to acid, sugar and alcohol thrive in that?

Myself, I’ve been looking for Chicken of the Woods. That aside, I’ve eaten a surprising number of the items on the “Steve, Don’t Eat it” list. Not even in my travels, just in the Chicago Suburbs.


Any home brewer will tell you that brewing done carelessly can go very, very wrong. If there is too much contamination, the yeast will not be dominant, and other things will rise to the top - it wont be a yeast culture, it will be a culture of some other microorganism, be it bacteria, mold, or some complicated mixture of several. In the prison example, there could for instance have been botulism bacteria growing in some rotted piece of the potato, which, if not carefully mashed, may contain airless-ish pockets. Then, if the rest of the brew is off, this might spread, since if the yeast doesn’t take off, alcohol production wont take off, either. And so on. NB, I am just laying out one possible scenario here - no idea exactly what happened.


Very interesting stuff, there! The Kombucha sounds like an interesting object of study, but I do agree that it sounds rather risky for “home use”. Still, it might yield interesting and usable compounds, as well as other insights, nonetheless.

Really depends on how they were making it. I don’t know the PH of their mix, and I don’t know how much sugar they added, or if they added it all at once.

Fermentation for alcohol is always anaerobic.

The citrus fruit seems like it should give some acidity, but it’s hard to guess how much. Also, think I remember reading that botulism toxin is much more robust than the organism, so if there was ever a time when the mix favored botulism then you could have the toxin, even if the pruno mixture subsequently became inhospitable

Storing a baked potato for an extended period of time at room temperature also sounds like something I wouldn’t advise - hard to say how that factors in


Have some pizza with that wine.

And that was just the first result from Google Search.
How do you want to send me my $5?

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