7 Things to Know About Shave Ice

On an exceptionally hot day, there's no better way to cool down and quench your relentless thirst than with a cone of shave ice. No, it's not a snow cone, and no, it's not shaved ice—it's something much, much tastier. You'll find shave ice all around Hawaii, from mom and pop shops to beach-side stands. Here are 7 things to know about this sensational treat. Made in Japan, Perfected in Hawaii Though most people associated shave ice with Hawaii, its origins can actually be traced back to Japan. When Japanese plantation workers came to Hawaii in the 1920s and 1930s, they introduced their famous dessert. Needless to say, it was a great hit. Start With Ice
The first step to making shave ice is to start with a nice, big chunk of ice. Next, you'll need a special shave ice machine (sorry, DIYers!). The block of ice is placed into the machine and secured in place. Once the machine is started, the ice will rotate quickly around a super sharp blade, which slices off thin shards of ice. The shards of ice—which look more like snow than ice chunks that you'll see in regular so-called snow cones—are packed into a cone-shaped cup. The resulting product looks something like a big, round snowball. Enter the Syrup
Plain ice wouldn't be much fun to eat (although it is deliciously light and fluffy)—that's where the syrup comes in. Flavored simple syrup is poured over the shave ice. Since the ice is so thin, it actually absorbs the syrup. This is a key reason that shave ice is so tasty: you won't find a pool of syrup at the bottom of the cup. Every bite is delicious. Favored Flavors
The selection of flavors will vary, depending on where you go, but you can expect to find tantalizing tropical flavors like mango, lychee, and pineapple. Some places even make their own in-house syrups from scratch. If you can't decide on just one flavor, no worries—most places will let you combine flavors. The rainbow is a popular option that will have your taste buds working in overdrive in a wonderful, heavenly way. Variations
Some shave ices are simply ice mixed with syrup, as described above, but there are some very palatable variations, too. Many places serve shave ice over a scoop of vanilla ice cream or over an azuki bean paste. Some will add sweet condensed milk over top of the shave ice to give in a nice, creamy texture. As you travel around different towns and islands, you'll get to know the local variations. The variety of colors of the Heleuma Canvas shoe is inspired by the eclectic mix of shave ice flavors. No Shave Ice Machine? Here's an Idea...
Shave ices have existed long before the automatic shave ice machine. The shave ice machine wasn't invented until 1934-- before that, ice was shaved manually with sharp blades. The original Japanese method involved shaving the ice against a sword. Shave Ice Beyond Hawaii
More than a few visitors have fallen in love with shave ice and have been inspired to take this delicious treat back home. Nowadays, you can find shave ice shops throughout the United States. They'll do in a pinch, but believe us when we say that nothing tastes quite like the real thing.