Hundreds of gallons of homemade booze found before inmate Super Bowl party, CA jail says

Officers at a San Francisco Bay Area jail confiscated an enormous stash of homebrew alcohol concocted by prisoners for a Super Bowl blowout party, sheriff’s officials told Don Sweeney of The Sacramento Bee.

“There will be no super bowl party at Santa Rita Jail tomorrow,” the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department wrote on an Instagram post Saturday showing officers posing with trash bags of green-, yellow-, blue- and orange-colored alcohol.

The concoction, called pruno, is commonly produced in prisons and jails by fermenting “fruit, sugar, water, and other common ingredients for several days in a sealed plastic bag,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But it’s also a recipe for botulism, particularly since the process isn’t exactly sanitary, the CDC warns.

Australian prisons confiscating Vegemite and cordial to cut down on pruno, or prison wine, brewing

When I was in jail, it was much easier to throw a chunk of hash embedded in cigarette butt over the barb wire fence, or have your girlfriend give you a nice, deep kiss in minimum security while transfering a bag of pills – never did that one, was just happy to see my girlfriend and have some human contact.

BluesbrosI never made pruno but wasn’t much of a food safety type back then and stuck to the classroom (I don’t want to read today. OK).

Jailhouse hooch, New South Wales in the dankest corners of cells, has become such a problem that some prisons in NSW have banned Vegemite and cordial, another key ingredient in the corrective services concoction.

Last year, inmates brewed up at least 8604 litres of the wine of crime, enough to fill a dozen 20-litre kegs in each of the NSW’s jails, reported the Daily Telegraph.

“Craft brewing shouldn’t be part of the prisoner rehabilitation program,” Opposition leader Luke Foley said.

Pruno has a long and international vintage having cropped up in prisons around the world.

It’s key ingredient is fruit, such as oranges, which are left to ferment with a little water, sugar and bread, ketchup, or even Vegemite, to kick start the yeast producing enzymes into action.

Prison catering staff replaced after outbreak of Salmonella

In prison, back in the old days, kitchen staff were usually prisoners who knew how to smuggle out whatever sugar was necessary for some luxury wine (others call it pruno).

prunoBut as executive officer Simon Buttigieg told the Times of Malta, the whole kitchen staff at the Corradino Correctional Facility was replaced after a salmonella outbreak earlier this month.

Twenty inmates sought medical attention two weeks ago after contracting food poisoning.

An inspection by the health authorities concluded that hot summer temperatures and poor kitchen hygiene were behind the poisoning outbreak.

Experimentating with pruno leads to 8 cases of botulism in Utah

The first case of food-related botulism recorded in the medical literature occurred in Germany in 1735 and was traced to uncooked fermented blood sausage. Food safety history guru (and pretty decent margarita recipe developer) Carl Custer pointed out in an IAFP workshop that botulism concerns (and regulatory responses) go back further than that. prunosweatshirtIn the 10th century, Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium prohibited the manufacture of blood sausage because of repeated illnesses leaving folks paralyzed and dying not too long after exposure. Botulism (derived from botulus, the latin word for sausage) is a pretty nasty old-world illness. Clostridium botulinum spores are fairly common in soil and can germinate and outgrow into vegetative cells in anaerobic, low acid conditions. A byproduct of the cells’ multiplication is the toxin.

Mrs. Kalisz, my family studies teacher warned of the dangers of botulism by showing a bulging can of beans. She didn’t mention anything about partially-fermented sausages, under processed home-canned food, packaged seafood, foil-wrapped baked potatoes – or a homemade prison alcohol called pruno.

To make pruno, a sugar source (like fruit acquired from a prison lunch) is put into in a bottle or bag, the naturally occurring yeast should convert the carbs into alcohol – creating some low-cost wine. If the sugar source is acidic fruit the low pH will suppress the germination of C. bot spores. If a potato (also full of carbs) is added by the amateur microbiologist it can raise the pH enough to allow for outgrowth. According to a paper published by Williams and colleagues in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, this is likely what happened in a 2011 botulism outbreak traced to a Utah prison.

Twelve prisoners consumed pruno, a homemade alcoholic beverage made from a mixture of ingredients in prison environments. Four drank pruno made without potato and did not Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 4.07.42 PMdevelop botulism. Eight drank pruno made with potato, became symptomatic, and were hospitalized. The prune recipe involved in this outbreak (see right) was provided by patient 4, who reportedly had cooked this recipe approximately 20 times previously without a potato. The prisoner’s rationale behind using a potato was that he thought it would “accelerate fermentation,” and he was “experimenting.”

Pruno or prison wine: old potato led to botulism outbreak in Utah prison

Who hasn’t tried to make hooch from old produce while in prison.

I have.

It’s so boring in jail people will try anything, usually experimenting with creative ways to bring in drugs, and becoming better criminals upon prunorelease.

I had a basic understanding of microbiology and fermentations.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the inmate who cooked up some botulism-tainted jailhouse wine at the Utah State Prison in 2011 had brewed homemade alcohol before. But he made one — nearly fatal — mistake in October 2011.

He used a potato.

Pruno, or “prison wine” is an alcoholic liquid made from apples, oranges, fruit cocktail, ketchup, sugar, milk, and possibly other ingredients, including crumbled bread to ferment the beverage.

According to a study about the botulism outbreak published this week in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the inmate’s experimentation in putting an old potato among other ingredients in the plastic bag hidden in his cell led to the sickening of 12 inmates at the prison. The potato allowed botulism to develop, according to the article.

The 2011 incident was highlighted in the peer-reviewed journal for the American College of Emergency Physicians in an article entitled, “Emergency Department Identification and Critical Care Management of a Utah Prison Botulism Outbreak.”

In the Utah case, researchers said eight of the 12 inmates who were sickened by the bad brew were diagnosed with “acute botulism poisoning.” This incident is one of the largest foodborne botulism outbreaks since 2006, according to researchers.

The inmate who made the so-called “pruno” told medical officials that he had made the brew — which contained a two-week old baked potato, powdered juice mix and several types of fresh and canned fruit — about 20 times before. But this was the first time he had added a potato, thinking it would “accelerate fermentation.”

Filth cuisine — 5 edible things borne from crap you’d never eat

Ian Fortey reports for the Asylum blog on the 5 edible things borne from crap you’d never eat. The edited list is below.

• Tilapia
Tilapia are little fish found pretty much all over the world at this point in farms and in freshwater, swimming about innocent as you please and occasionally winding up on the menu at Red Lobster. In countries like Vietnam, tilapia is a great crop for fish farmers as it is what is known as a "value added" crop, meaning not only can the fish be raised and sold for food, they also eat poo.
Like your strange cousin whom you were never allowed to be alone with, tilapia will put anything in their mouths. People exploit that by using tilapia for sewage treatments, where they clean up crap as they grow before getting sold to some lucky diner to eat with a side of mashed potatoes and a biscuit.
Research has shown that fish raised on poop will have significantly higher levels of fecal choliform bacteria in their tissue than fish raised in treated water, but the bacteria doesn’t seem to affect the muscle tissue, meaning the fish is more or less safe for you to eat. And, if it was raised in your neck of the woods, or at least where your toilet drains, it may even taste familiar.

• Citric Acid
If you’ve ever licked the walls under a sink in a condemned building, you have issues. But it’s also likely you’ve been horribly exposed to Aspergillus niger, one of the most common molds known to man, strains of which supply the bulk of our citric acid supplies.

• Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a pretty necessary ingredient of any Oktoberfest celebration. It’s fermented cabbage and it belongs on sausage, because if you’re sucking back beer you can’t taste it anyway. And in some cases that’s likely a good thing as some sauerkraut has an unwholesomely close relationship with human urine.
Apparently in blind taste tests, seven in 20 people prefer the taste of sauerkraut that has been made from urine-fertilized cabbage. Which is to say someone peed on the cabbage and then later you ate it, and 35 percent of people think it tastes better than stuff no one peed on.

• Lutefisk
A Norwegian dish made from whitefish and lye, Lutefisk is one of the few foods you can eat that is made from an ingredient that can melt you. If you remember that scene in "Fight Club" when Brad Pitt kisses Ed Norton’s hand and pours powder on it to give him a chemical burn, you have a bit of an idea of what lye in action looks like.
Apparently some industrious Norseman at some point in time ventured to soak fish in water for six days, then soak it in lye to the point where it turns to jelly and would melt your insides out if you ate it, then soak it in water again to decrease some of that horrifying meltiness, and voila. Edible! Seems like such an easy recipe it’s a wonder it’s not served all over the world.

• Pruno
You can’t really expect a prison to offer up the finest in wines, but even by prison standards pruno is kind of disgusting and, according to Wikipedia, is occasionally described as tasting like a "vomit-flavored wine cooler."
Because pruno is made in facilities where alcohol is not allowed and none of the tools to produce it are afforded to anyone, its production is a little more slapdash than your average bottle of Thunderbird. Basically, pruno is made from the remnants of whatever biomatter a felon can get his hands on — fruit salad, oranges, bread or anything that has the ability to ferment.
Once everything is smashed into a bag together, it needs to be kept warm for a few days, and then sugar has to be added. This can be real sugar, ketchup, honey, whatever is handy again, because this recipe is going to be disgusting no matter what. A few more days of being kept warm and voila, you have fermentation. Filter out the chunks of pulp and mold (because there will be mold), perhaps through an old sock, and there you have it, your own glass of awful, awful pruno. Enjoy as you try not to go blind.