36. Barrington EATS: Warm Up Your Winter with Sunshine-Fresh Produce at Heinen’s Fine Foods

Home Newsroom 36. Barrington EATS: Warm Up Your Winter with Sunshine-Fresh Produce at Heinen’s Fine Foods

We hear people around Barrington buzzing about the variety of delicious foods found at Heinen’s. Hot topics include the prepared foods, deli meats, wines, seafood and, above all else, their produce.  It is simply unbeatable in the quality department, and the selection is what really has people talking.  As with all of Heinen’s perishable departments, nothing in their produce arena goes overlooked. They dedicate hours each week to finding you the best produce worldwide, and are proud to help bring it fresh to your table.

Heinen's Produce Department in Barrington - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Heinen’s Produce Department in Barrington – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

In the midst of winter dreariness, there are some bright things shining in Heinen’s produce marketplace. There are bountiful everyday items like potatoes, peppers and green beans.

Green Beans at Heinen's Fine Foods - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Green Beans at Heinen’s Fine Foods – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

But they also offer a great selection of one-of-a kind specialties like pink lemons and exotic rambutans from Vietnam.

Rambutans at Heinen's Fine Foods - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Rambutans at Heinen’s Fine Foods – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Working with companies like Melissa’s Produce, a distributor of exotic fruits and vegetables out of California, Heinen’s has access to premier produce selections truly from across the globe.  And the company’s buyers source verify all their produce, personally visiting suppliers and ensuring that any produce coming into Heinen’s is of high quality and exceptional taste.

Exotic Produce at Heinen's Fine Foods - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Exotic Produce at Heinen’s Fine Foods – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

We met with Heinen’s produce manager in Barrington, Ken McKeel , to get an in-depth look at their various produce offerings and what’s to come in the near future as sunshine makes its way North and new early spring crops emerge.

Heinen's Produce Manager, Ken McHeel - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Heinen’s Produce Manager, Ken McKeel – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Ken walked us through dozens of beautiful arrangements of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, roots and more, and told us, “Other companies might entice you with things like rainforest spraying, but that is not good for sustaining the health value and shelf life of the food.  Instead, we work to artfully display our high-quality produce in its natural artistic form, by balancing colors.”

The Art of Displaying Produce at Heinen's - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
The Art of Displaying Produce at Heinen’s – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

“Every season, we focus on getting the highest quality produce available at the lowest prices for you.  Right now it’s citrus season, so we’ll be offering citrus specials on items like cocktail grapefruits, seedless lemons and an extensive array of tangerines and oranges..”

Heinen's Oranges - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Heinen’s Oranges – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Heinen’s also pays close attention to what customers want. In response to a high demand for organics, the Barrington store doubled their organic lettuces space and cut bagged lettuce shelf space in half.  With high demand for their organic honeycrisp apples, Heinen’s orders them aplenty and places them accessibly at the front of the store.

Honeycrisp Apples at Heinen's in Barrington - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Honeycrisp Apples at Heinen’s in Barrington – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

You want something you don’t see? “Just ask”, Ken tells us.  “And if you want a taste, each member of the produce team carries a knife to cut you a sample.”

Sampling Produce Welcomed at Heinen's - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Sampling Produce Welcomed at Heinen’s – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Debunking the myth that better means more expensive, Heinen’s prices and specials are remarkably reasonable.  At the front of the store the day we spoke with Ken, specials included 3 pounds of Clementines for $5/each, and organic cameo apples for $1.49/pound and pints of strawberries for $2/each.

Watch for Produce Specials at Heinen's - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Watch for Produce Specials at Heinen’s – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Opposite the front store specials is a cooler with treasures like fresh cut fruit and Heinen’s own juice, which is fresh-squeezed in the store every day.  Varieties include orange, carrot, grapefruit, beet, honeybell tangerine and an “Immunity Booster” juice, which is a recipe created by Dr. Todd Pesek M.D., Heinen’s on-staff medical expert and super food resource.

Heinen's Freshly Squeezed Juices - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Heinen’s Freshly Squeezed Juices – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Right next to the pre-cut fruit are pre-cut vegetables in the Value Added vegetables case. People may hesitate to buy a whole cabbage to use the shreds for Asian dishes, or a whole butternut squash due to the chore of peeling and coring it, and cutting it into cubes. So these packages can be a dream come true for any cook seeking time-saving steps to getting one step closer to dinner.  There are also Teriyaki, stew and fajita vegetables as well as full vegetable platters.

Heinen's "Value Added" Vegetables Case - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Heinen’s “Value Added” Vegetables Case – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Ken says the produce department’s “baby” is the Organics Wet Rack.  “The wet rack is unlike any I ever worked with in any produce department.  And the care we take is even more beyond compare.”

Ken McKeel at Heinen's Organics Wet Rack - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Ken McKeel at Heinen’s Organics Wet Rack – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

“Where most stores leave shelves “as-is” overnight, we tear ours down and put each piece through a special cooling process, then each morning reassess each piece to ensure that it’s worthy of gracing the shelves the next day.”

Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Napa Cabbage at Heinen’s – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

The quality of the produce radiates right off the shelf, and the natural goodness of products such as kale and fresh herbs is perfect to the piece.”

Organics at Heinen's Fine Foods - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Organics at Heinen’s Fine Foods – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

And because vegetables lose their health value in transport, Heinen’s seeks opportunities to offer produce grown locally.    Come Spring and Summer many lettuces, herbs and other items on their shelves come from local farms like Goebbert’s in South Barrington so it’s practically like eating out of our own backyard.

Lettuce Selection at Heinen's - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Lettuce Selection at Heinen’s – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

As warmer weather creeps north from South American growers to those in our lower states, we’ll see plentiful selections of peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots grace the Heinen’s racks. And as more sunshine fills our days, we look forward to continued garden-fresh surprises from Heinen’s produce marketplace.

Heinen's Produce Marketplace - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Heinen’s Produce Marketplace – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Heinen’s Fine Foods is located at the Shops at Flint Creek, 500 N. Hough Street, in Barrington, Illinois. They’re now open from 8:00 a.m. To 8:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Click HERE to follow them on Facebook or find them online at HeinensBarrington.com.

Heinen's Fine Foods - 500 N. Hough Street in Barrington, Illinois
Heinen’s Fine Foods in Barrington, Illinois

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About the Author

Kelly Donlea is a Barrington mom, chef, cookbook author the owner of Organizing Dinner, a company that brings sensible cooking solutions to busy people. She has published several cookbooks and one of her specialties is helping parents plan family meals with fewer trips to the grocery store. Kelly also offers cooking classes and demonstrations in your home or public facility. To learn more about Kelly, her recipes and her services, you’ll find her Facebook page by clicking HERE and her website at OrganizingDinner.com. Kelly is going to be sharing recipes, cooking tips and special features about chefs and popular menu items at area restaurants right here at 365Barrington.com.

Please join us as we discover local culinary treasures and new kitchen classics in our regular Friday food feature here at 365Barrington.com called “Barrington Eats” with Kelly Donlea!

If you’d like to us to feature you favorite chef, restaurant or food store or if you have a food related question that you’d like Kelly to answer, make a quick stop at the 365 Barrington Suggestion Box and leave us a note in the form which you’ll find by clicking HERE or simply leave your comment in the box below.

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