Shave Ice Machine

When it comes to cool, refreshing summer treats, no list is complete without shave ice. Sometimes called Hawaiian shave ice, this ice-based dessert is produced using a block of ice, which is shaved (as the name implies) into a very fine substance that can closely resemble the feeling and texture of snow – usually with the assistance of a shave ice machine. The following is a closer look at this favorite summertime dessert, how it is made, how it is different from the snow cone, and how it has evolved.

Home Shave Ice Maker

What is Shave Ice and How is it Made?

Known by many in the United States as Hawaiian shave ice, shave ice is the fine shavings from either a block or a cube of ice – which is often topped with varying combinations of flavored shave ice toppings and different cream flavors. The typical establishment that sells Hawaiian Shave Ice will offer anywhere from 20 to 70 different flavor varieties, and will usually be served in squat, paper, or foam cups with a spoon, straw, or spoonstraw. Over the years, this has evolved into a widely popular treat that can be found at a number of establishments, especially in the warmer climates. A few possible reasons for this broad appeal are because the treat is relatively quick and easy to make (especially when made with a shave ice machine, which many establishments make practice of using), it is inexpensive to produce and prices, depending on size and geographic location, tend to be in the realm of $.75 and $5 for a cup, and because it's a tasty dessert that is light on the calories and the wallet.

Shave Ice

The Different Types of Shave Ice Machines

For restaurants and other establishments that plan on serving shave ice to their customers on a regular basis, investing in a shave ice machine is a crucial investment – and it is one that will help to make and retain lifelong, loyal fans. There are two general types of shave ice machines: those that take blocks of ice, and those that take cubes of ice. Before making the purchase, it is worthwhile to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type:

  • Cube ice is easily available almost anywhere in the country, while block ice may be more difficult to find, depending on where you are. A quick internet search or glance at the yellow pages should provide an answer as to whether block ice is obtainable near you.
  • A cube ice shaver is somewhat easier to use than the block ice shaver, though neither are especially difficult to operate. If there are going to be many people operating the shave ice machine, it might save a bit of time on training staff how to make shave ice if you go with the cube ice shaver.
  • Block ice tends to be a bit more expensive than cube ice.
  • While cube ice shavers produce shave ice that is somewhat grainy and coarse, block ice shavers allow for finer, smoother end product.
  • In most other respects, such as market popularity and durability, the two types of shave ice machines are very much similar.
Commercial Shaved Ice Machine

How is Shave Ice Different from the Snow Cone?

Snow cones are another popular summertime treat, but rather than fine shavings, these are pellets produced exclusively using crushed cube ice through a snow cone machine. Snow cones, which most people are familiar with because of their popularity at county fairs, amusement parks, festivals, zoos, and carnivals, are usually served in a cone shaped cup, more often than not without a spoon. Snow cones will usually not be sold in as many flavor varieties as shave ice – often there will be only somewhere between two and five flavors available. Depending on what sort of container the snow cone is sold in, the price typically ranges from a dollar to three dollars per snow cone.

Ice Shavings

The History and Evolution of Shave Ice

Traced back to its origins, shave ice was first made in Japan during the Heian Period (between 794 and 1185). During this time of its conception, shave ice was known as kakigori – but it began to grow as a popular treat around the world when Japanese immigrants in Hawaii working as plantation workers brought the recipe with them and exposed Americans to the new idea. The first, original ice block shaver was invented in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1934, by an inventor by the name of Ernest Hansen. The commoditization of shave ice, enabled by the proliferation of the shave ice machine, has since led to countries around the world adopting the treat and putting their own variations to it. In South Korea, for example, the dessert is called Patbingsu, and while it started as shave ice and sweet azuki beans, it is now often served in a very elaborate fashion – using frozen yogurt or ice cream, fruit syrup, condensed, sweetened milk, various fruits, and cereal flakes.