The History of Hawaiian Shave Ice
A big messy snow cone on a hot summer day at the fair is one my fondest childhood memories. On a recent vacation, with my toes in the white sands of Maui, I discovered a 'snow cone' unlike any other I have had before. Much like an In-N-Out burger is not just a burger; Hawaiian shave ice is NOT a snow cone. I learned this the hard way when I asked a local kid, "Hey, where'd you get that snow cone?" The kid looked at his friend and said "Hey bruddah, Lolo tink dis a snow coneâ€¦" then he directed his attention to me and said "Dis no snow cone haole, it Shave Ice!" In order to avoid future ridicule at the hands of junior high kids, I decided to do some investigating on my trip to find out what this light, fluffy, icy, wonderful concoction is all about.
Hawaiian shave ice actually originated in Japan where it is known as kakig?ri dating back to the Heian Period. The Japanese brought it to Hawaii when they migrated there to take jobs on the plantation fields. These Japanese workers enjoyed it as a refreshing break in the humid, tropical climate. They would use their machetes to shave flakes into cups before Hawaiian shave ice machines were invented.
After getting a cup full, they would pour different fresh fruit juices over the top. The most common choices were local Hawaian ingredients such as mango, pineapple, coconut cream, passion fruit, lychee and kiwi. Now-a-days, Hawaiianshave ice is traditionally served in a plastic flower cup with multiple flavors and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and/or azuki bean paste. Creating a "snow cap" on your Hawaiian ice is also a common addition. A snow cap is when condensed milk is poured over the top of the shave ice and flavorings. I went with half pina colada and half tigers blood a scoop of ice-cream and the snow cap, I was so infatuated with the texture and flavors of this treat that I went back every day of my vacation and by the time I left the workers knew me by name.
So back to the differences between snow cones and shave ice. In a snow cone the ice is ground and has a rough pebble texture; where shave ice is thin slices of ice so fine that flavorings are absorbed into the ice rather than settling to the bottom of the cup. It also has more of a "fresh snow" taste and thus is often confused with the "snow cone."
So how is shave Ice made if it's no longer made by the Japanese with a machete? An authentic shave ice starts with a block of ice that is spun across a razor-sharp blade which shaves the ice creating the soft snow-like texture. Then it is packed into a flower cup, and the flavored syrup, azuki beans or "snow cap" is poured over the ice. No matter what flavor choices or additions you make, It is definitely something that you are going to want to check out next time you are visiting Hawaii. If you don't want to wait for you next Hawaiian vacation to try out this delicious treat, consider having Hawaiian ice at your next summer party, or even start a local Hawaiian ice company right here in your home town.
Looking to start your own business or to buy a Hawaiian ice machine? Visit http://realhawaiianice.com for more information.