12/17/2013 09:40 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Jailhouse Wine Leads To Botulism Outbreak, Sickens 8 Inmates In Utah

Hooch can lead to hurling if you're not careful.

Jailhouse wine -- also known as hooch, spud juice and pruno -- sickened eight inmates in Utah after it was tainted with a dangerous bacteria that leads to botulism, according to a case study published this month in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. After the inmates were hospitalized, investigators found traces of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which likely came from the skin of a baked potato that was added to the concoction, ABC News reports.

Dr. Megan Fix, a lead author of the study, treated the first patient after the October 2011 incident. She said the inmate was slurring his speech and had difficulty breathing.

"The brain is functioning perfectly fine, but you can’t control your muscles," she told ABC. "That’s why he was so scared. His brain was working but he couldn't control what was going on. He knew he was getting weaker and weaker."

Botulism is no joke -- it releases a nerve toxin and can be fatal if not treated quickly. Luckily for us, the folks over at Brokelyn came up with a safer recipe that you can make at home.

The standard formula for brewing pruno consists of sugar -- normally from oranges -- yeast and time. With this recipe, you'll use a packet of dried yeast instead of moldy bread or other weird items that inmates come up with. Fix says the inmate who made the pruno in Utah used the potato skin to speed up the fermentation process, but we won't need that.

Here are the ingredients, from Brokelyn:

(Safe) Pruno:
  • 10-12 oranges (or in a pinch, other sweet items you have around, like grape jelly or cake frosting)
  • 1 large can of fruit cocktail (for a nice finishing flavor)
  • 1 packet of dried yeast
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 one-gallon plastic bag with strong seal


If you can't get enough of jailhouse recipes, check out the prison cookbook that we compiled from women in the big house.