Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Always be Prepared - How to Make Prison Wine

I believe in always being prepared.  I have no plans to land in prison, but if I ever did I would imaging having some type of wine - even "Pruno" prison wine would be better than nothing.  This stuff is called prison wine, but maybe someone ends up marooned on a desert island with an interesting assortment of food stuffs - they could use this same process, and maybe call it Gilligan's wine???
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My disclaimer is that I did not try this at home, and I don't recommend you do either. Save this in your memory banks for some desperate situation where prison wine would actually be a treat.  

If you do ever try and make this stuff, first rule is that you need to be of legal drinking age, and second - be immaculately clean and sanitary. A funny requirement for a "wine" that is currently likely fermenting in many many prison toilet tanks throughout the world.  But in any alcohol making situation where fermentation is done at warm temperatures - you run the risk of botulism or some other nasty stuff. So clean anything you use, including fresh fruit to get rid of any contaminants.

So, let's call it Gilligan's wine, and lets say that on your deserted island (along with a professor and movie star) you happen to have the following supplies:

  • Large, 1 Gallon Zip Lock bag
  • Fresh Oranges 8 - 10 (or perhaps your island has pineapple trees, you could peel and core two pineapples)
  • Fruit Cocktail - 8 oz can
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Fresh Water - 2 cups
  • Warm Water - 90 - 100 degrees F
  • Towels
  • Clean cloth or sock to filter wine
To enhance your Gilligan's wine (oh forget it - I'm just calling it prison wine!), you can also use these optional items:
  • 4-6 Ketchup Packets
  • Dry Bread - dry (moldy is OK), crumbled
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Peel your oranges and break in to segments (or peel, core, and cut your pineapple into chunks). You can include some of the orange peels for additional flavor - just make sure they are clean! Combine the fresh fruit and the fruit cocktail (fruit like stuff, syrup, everything that's in the can) in the Zip Lock bag.  After getting as much air out as possible, seal the bag and mash the contents with your hands until the fruit is broken down.   Now add the fresh water to the Zip Lock, remove as much air as possible, and re-seal it.  Now put the bag in your warm water for 20 minutes, then remove and wrap in towels to help retain the warmth.  Store for about two days in a dark location, checking it occasionally to make sure the fermentation is not producing enough gas to make the bag explode.

Now you will add the sugar, and if you have it add the ketchup and dry bread.  Fermentation is all about yeast turning sugar into alcohol, so for the first two days natural yeasts were fermenting the sugars from the fruit and fruit cocktail, now you are adding additional sugars (sugar, and Ketchup which has a ton of sugar, but also adds some flavor to your Gilli..., I mean prison wine), and the bread can be a source of additional yeast to help with the fermentation process.  Repeat the earlier process by removing the air, resealing the Zip Lock, and placing the bag in warm water for 30 minutes (longer this time since you have more "stuff" in the bag to warm). Wrap the bag with towels, and store in a dark place for two more days. There will be more fermentation happening at this phase, so check the bag every twelve hours and open a small part of the seal of the Zip Lock to release some of the gas.  After this second two day fermentation, release all the gas, reseal, put the bag in warm water for 30 minutes, back in the towels, and back in the dark spot for 4 days - continuing to check the bag and release gases every twelve hours.


Just as you begin to think this is way too much work, you are almost done!  You now need some clean cloth or even a clean sock to work as a filter. pour the contents of the bag through the cloth filter into a (very clean) receptacle. Your homemade wine will take much better over ice, but ice may be a lot to ask on a desert island or penitentiary.
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If your efforts have been, uh... successful I guess, it will look like cloudy tang. It will smell like oranges, a hint of ketchup, and cheap alcohol - perhaps like cheap white wine.  It will by no means smell pleasant, but if there are any other smells going on, you may want to trash the batch (tough to do on a desert island I know!).

Is it good? No!!! Is it better than nothing - only you, surviving on your desert island, can decide!


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