How To Make Your Own Prison Wine

Prison WineI don’t plan on going to prison any time soon, but if I do somehow end up there I’d at least like to be prepared. I’d imagine that a day in the life as a new prisoner can be quite stressful, and what better way is there to relax after a long day of making license plates and trying not to get shanked than with a nice glass of wine? Since prisons ban all alcoholic beverages however many inmates have taken to making their own wine, or “pruno” as it’s often called.

There are plenty of different pruno recipes out there, but I decided to use the most popular one, which is attributed to a man named Jarvis Masters, who is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison. Making prison wine is actually surprisingly easy, and all you really need is a one gallon plastic bag, ten oranges, eight ounces of fruit cocktail, some sugar cubes, six teaspoons of ketchup and a towel.

The first step is to peel your oranges and toss them in the bag along with the fruit cocktail. Then you’re going to want to mash up the oranges as much as you can and add 16 ounces of water to the bag as well. The next step is to seal the bag up nice and tight, put it in your sink and heat it with hot running water for 15 minutes. After that you’re going to want to wrap your bag up in a towel to keep it nice and warm to help with the fermentation process and then stash it somewhere safe for 48 hours.

Once the 48 hours are up you’ll need to check on your bag of mashed up fruit. Does it smell completely disgusting and look like it’s about to explode? That means it’s working! This is when you add the sugar and six teaspoons of ketchup to speed up the fermentation process even more (and to give the wine a little better taste). Jarvis’s recipe calls for 40 – 60 sugar cubes, but the more sugar you use the higher the alcohol content of your wine will be (up to a certain point) so I added 60 of them. Once the sugar cubes and ketchup have been added you need to seal the bag back up, place it under hot running water for 30 minutes, wrap it back up in a towel and let it do its thing.

Three short days after adding your sugar and ketchup you’ll have your very own prison wine! All you really need to do in that final 72 hour span is to open the bag once a day to let all the gasses out and then seal it back up and run hot water over it for 15 minutes before wrapping it back up again in the towel. Once the three days are up just separate the fruit mash from your pruno and enjoy!

If you’re reading this I know that you’re probably wondering how it tastes. It was actually a lot better than I expected it to be. The smell kind of throws you off, but it pretty much just tasted like a really thick orange juice with a hint of ketchup flavor. It obviously isn’t the best wine in the world, but then again, if you’re in jail it’s certainly better than having no wine at all.


29 Comments on How To Make Your Own Prison Wine

  1. Clint Larkins
    June 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm (13 years ago)

    Im a correctional officer in florida and i have seen some pretty interesting and disgusting versions of this,and in florida prisons they call it “Buck”, but whatever you call it, it is all basically the same. im making this stuff right now and am really iterested in what it tastes like and most of all how much alcohol is in it.

    • Sergio
      November 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm (11 years ago)

      So now that you made it and tasted it dont bust them for it you know its some work to make haha

      • Vinny
        May 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm (10 years ago)

        you can also up the alcohol content by adding another cup or two of sugarthe day you pull it up and drop it for another 48 hrs..and to cut the cooking time down (if your in prison) pinch the center out of bread and wrap in stocking or new sock tip sewed or tied shut..the yeast in the dough helps speed up the process…if your a free man just ad 1 table spoon of activated yeast (wine yeast if you wanna be fancy) but if you use yeast you can leave out the tomato paste or catchup.

        • hagrid
          December 29, 2015 at 9:20 pm (9 years ago)

          thank you.. i was trying to find out if i had to use ketchup or not.

        • SKEEZo
          January 24, 2024 at 8:40 pm (6 months ago)

          I’m glad I saw this comment before I added the ketchup. I can’t imagine ketchup prison wine tasting all that great, and since I’m a free man I think I’ll probably just go with the yeast for now.

        • Librarian
          April 11, 2024 at 8:56 pm (3 months ago)


    • SideTwacked
      January 27, 2022 at 6:58 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m a convict from SC. You can actually make buck a lot faster. Orange juice concentrate (6 cups), 3 cups of fruit (we used peaches), 2 (small) bags Jolly Ranchers, 4 tomatoes (halved). Put your fruit, juice, and tomatoes in a plastic trash bag, tie it off, and then place that bag inside of another trash bag. Then wrap it in a nice, thick towel and place it over a floor vent with the heat on (or put it in a box and place a clip-on lamp inside with the bulb pressed against the towel), and let sit for 24 hours. Burp the bag every 2-3 hours. Then add your Jolly Ranchers. Re-tie the bag and heat some more for another 48 hours, burping every 2-3 hours. And that’s it. 72 hour wine. Doesn’t taste great, and if you’re consuming alcohol on at least a semi-regular basis, it’ll take probably the whole bag to get you smashed. But for a prison inmate? Two to three cups gets you in the mood. Five to six will give correctional officers a lively night, especially if consumed by a Native American. Rink responsibly!

    • Name*
      April 23, 2023 at 5:01 am (1 year ago)

      I was in Florida prison for 8 years, I’m in Egypt now. I can show you how to make gas. Don’t use ketchup tho use tomatoes. Instead of fruit cocktail ise apple juice and orange juice. And of course oranges. It’s stronger than 4 Loco.

      • Shannon
        September 22, 2023 at 11:00 pm (10 months ago)

        Hey I wanted to ask for the recipe. I’m curious about the taste and alcohol content. Alcohol is going and always been a good bartering product. Even better than gold.

      • Peebs
        October 4, 2023 at 9:36 pm (10 months ago)

        Bro. 2lbs of sugar per gallon of water, 6oz tomato paste per gallon, half a uncooked potato,diced as finely as possible per gallon, heat the water up to almost boiling and put it in your bag first, then the sugar, make sure it fully dissolved. Then mix the tomato paste and potatoes, mix well. Then, the kicker, one cup of yeast roll mix from the kitchen. You better be there to burp it every hour or so or it *will* explode. This recipe tastes like malt liquor and I would say is about 15-20% alcohol after three days of being kept warm. Any longer and you’re making vinegar. Try it Buck connoisseurs.

      • Charity
        June 3, 2024 at 12:15 pm (2 months ago)

        Show me

  2. CarterScully
    June 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm (13 years ago)

    There’s something weird about reading a blog entry on making prison hooch while slightly tipsy.

    That said, I don’t think I’ll be making this. I’ll stick with the tasty store bought stuff.

  3. @JasonLett
    November 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm (12 years ago)

    Wine, demystified. Really, really demystified.

  4. Paul Blanchard
    March 29, 2013 at 11:56 pm (11 years ago)

    Taste varies, alcohol content is contingent upon sugar added. Grapefruit ferments quicker. The best you can hope for without distillation is about 17-20%

  5. william daw
    June 18, 2013 at 1:59 am (11 years ago)

    well i used to be a prisoner in texas for 15 years, the most common way for us was gallon jugs pineapple,hot water,sugar,raisins,and tomato paste taste wise might not win a test but getting drunk it certainly does do that man what a few nights i can remember……ill leave it at that just wanted to share that.

  6. Jairo
    November 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm (11 years ago)

    I was in a federal prison in georgia and boy did we have fun making this you can add some skittles to put some kind of flavor in it wasnt that bad but now that im free i laugh at the stuff we did in prison just to get alcohol or some other good stuff

    • Raimundo
      April 7, 2014 at 9:10 pm (10 years ago)

      Jairo? Do you remember me? we stayed at same cell in prison. you was my girlfriend for nine months. i miss you! i bet that you are in the game again, like the old times!

      • Facc
        August 16, 2017 at 3:11 pm (7 years ago)

        Whoa JaiLo as u were known as, u know damn well u got ur ass beat for playing a fool and not being obedient to me. Dont play big man in print. We all miss you. Like the old times.

    • Bigthugginbuggin
      January 28, 2022 at 10:40 am (2 years ago)

      Jairo I heard you still working them corners , see you inside small boy

  7. Josse HMYOI Jackson
    April 15, 2016 at 11:32 am (8 years ago)

    UK way of making hooch in HMYOI deerbolt, loads of fruit, doesn’t matter mashing as just shake the bottle, loads of sugar, water, fruit juice and any fruit you can get hold of, loaf or two of bread n empty air regularly for a month, if your in the gardens nick the corn it takes it to about 50 percent

    • Josse HMYOI Jackson
      April 15, 2016 at 11:35 am (8 years ago)

      remember to let air out or boom

  8. Jammy Man
    June 13, 2022 at 1:01 am (2 years ago)

    All yall Jay catz man.. all yall.

  9. Graham
    April 1, 2023 at 12:46 pm (1 year ago)

    Can you just use oranges sugar and ketchup will work?

  10. Suza
    November 4, 2023 at 4:02 pm (9 months ago)

    Husband spent 20 years in prison. We were researching hooch. Thank you

  11. JailAid
    December 18, 2023 at 9:26 am (7 months ago)

    Wow! This is the first time I have heard about pruno. I am happy to read your article. I am amazed at how inmates became creative and resourceful.

  12. Patrick
    February 7, 2024 at 7:09 pm (5 months ago)

    Get ur kicker ready juice fresh n jam even bit soda. Get it heated burp it bout on e a day once cooking also a good shake. Next 20 oz soda bottles fresh juice sugar means candy sour patch anything like that add that in the 20 oz bottle then add soda fruity best. Next seal up shake keep them warm aka cooking. Burp once bottle gets hard seal back up repeat in keep cooking 2 days last day 3rd add more sugar seal up keep cooking 4 day be fugeo

    • Purple Dragon
      June 6, 2024 at 3:41 pm (1 month ago)

      Why not just leave a tiny hole at the top so it “burps” itself? Why bother having to do it manually?

  13. Jay
    June 14, 2024 at 4:11 pm (1 month ago)

    It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as you use fruit, sugar, and water, you’re going to have wine. What’s the two most important things..?? The taste, and how strong.. So dont make it with junk you think will taste foul. If you’re in the joint you can’t go wrong with apples and oranges..!! Th E strongest wine we used to make was out of potatoes. Tasted like shit but very strong. The best tasting I made was on the streets and it was with blue berries. Fire..!! Alright let’s say apples. Smash up 20 apples, 1 gallon of water, let sit for two days put a pound of sugar in with the apples. Wait 3-4 days and there you go. Of course it’s always good to heat up and keep wrapped just like the dudes up above said, so follow their heating and wrapping directions. Also, those quantities of apples, water, and sugar are a generic measuring table to use. You want a bigger batch use 40 apples , 2 gallons of water, and 2 pounds of sugar. Do the exact same heating and wrapping techniques as before mentioned. There shouldn’t be any longer of a heating time because the batch is bigger. And if you want it stronger, like me, you put 2 pounds of sugar to every gallon instead of one. This WILL be a longer wait due to the fact that there is more sugar to cook off into alcohol.. Here’s another trick that I only seen one dude mention it but didn’t explain it.. The kicker. Take the pulp out of the first batch you make and save. Add a little sugar to the kicker every other day or so to keep it alive. The next batch you make, use what ever measurements that you want 20 – 40 apples plus gallon(s) of water wait for two days, add your sugar and then add this kicker to it(pulp from previous batch) and it will speed this up to almost a day day and a half. Repeat steps of process for future batches….Thanks JayB


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