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An Apple and a Dream: Joan Bintz' Hot Cider Punch

“Joan Bintz, 50, is the talent behind many of the apple-inspired entrees served in the Bintz Apple Mountain Restaurant, Freeland. She and her husband, John, opened the eatery and ski slope 21 years ago.”

“Mrs. Bintz is a former junior high school teacher and a graduate of the University of Michigan. Many of her favorite apple creations were gleaned from experimenting with different recipe ideas.”

--“Meet the Cook -Off Judges,” The Saginaw News, February 2, 1982

Mention the name of Joan Heiderer Bintz and the first thing that comes to mind is Bintz Apple Mountain, the apple-themed ski resort that she and her late husband, John, created in their Freeland orchard. For their accomplishments, they were inducted into the Michigan Ski Hall of Fame in 2012.

We turn to the Michigan Ski Hall of Fame website for a synopsis of the of the beginnings of their business:

“John and Joan Bintz were pioneers in the ski industry, bringing the sport to many people in Mid-Michigan. According to Mark S. Graves, a reporter for The Township (Saginaw) Times, “Skiing grew in the area mainly because of the far-sightedness and back-breaking efforts of John and Joan Bintz, who created a ski resort called ‘Bintz Apple Mountain.’”

Originally apple farmers, the Bintz family was looking for a way to save their struggling business. Frank A. Cooper wrote in the Farm Journal, that "26-year-old John Bintz refused to believe that the small family farm was doomed. Fresh out of the Armed Services in 1958, John decided that it needed some hard, smart retail selling. He and his wife, Joan, began a plan. They constructed an old-fashioned cider mill, a bakery, general store and a gift shop. These improvements kept the Bintz family busy for a good portion of the year, but they still needed a “winter crop.” So, thinking out of the box, they set out to create a ski hill.”

Joan Bintz’ accomplishments extend beyond the businesses she and John developed and operated. As a junior at Saginaw High School, she won the title of outstanding actress in the school’s 1947 theatrical competition. After graduating from the University of Michigan, she returned to Saginaw. Her positions included teaching, performing in television commercials on Channel 5 and leading a series of theater classes for children at Pit and Balcony Playhouse. After her marriage, she would focus on her family and the Bintz’s growing businesses. A 1980 Saginaw News article reported: “Life for the 48-year-old Mrs. Bintz has been a combination of homemaking, child raising and almost total dedication to the family business.” However, she also found time to be active in the community, this included serving as a member of the Historical Society of Saginaw County Board for several years.

The Recipe: Joan Bintz' Hot Cider Punch

This week’s recipe is for an apple cider-based beverage created by Joan Bintz. As you make the recipe, a comment by Saginaw News writer Betty Hansen seems appropriate:

“The apple, in all its enticing forms, has treated John and Joan Bintz better than it ever did Adam and Eve, and they are not ungrateful. Apple motifs of every kind decorate their home, the lodge and the business.”

--The Saginaw News, January 28, 1980.

A Note from the Castle Test Kitchen: We used brown sugar (instead of honey) and left the spices whole (unground). When finished, we let it cool for 30 minutes before adding the ginger brandy and triple sec. We then poured it off through a strainer to remove the spices. It made about 4 1/2 quarts total. It’s tasty warm or on ice. The alcohol content is low so if you want to take it up a notch, we recommend adding 1/2 oz cinnamon whiskey and 1/2 oz caramel whiskey to a rocks glass. Fill glass with ice and pour cider punch over the top. Stir and enjoy!


In the near future, the Museum will open a restaurant exhibit that will include the story of Bintz Apple Mountain. Also watch for our New Year’s recipe. A not too subtle hint, it includes apples.

1 Comment

Thank you so much for posting this! Joan deserves a standing ovation for her entire life! Joan was more than gracious when she hosted the Saginaw County Special Olympics. This was a great event for the Olympians and Joan was instrumental in providing a safe, exciting day. Thank you, Joan, for the best winters in my life! -Mary Jo Deisler Barrett

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