When Michael and I went to Hawaii last year, I had my first opportunity to try Hawaiian shave ice, a favorite treat of locals and visitors alike, and we returned home with hope that we might find a machine that could replicate the shave ice we had on that vacation while staying within a family budget. We didn’t want a snow cone machine, as the texture is completely different. Traditional U.S. snow cones have ball shaped pieces of ice, but shave ice is flaky like snow flakes and is light on the tongue.
After much searching, we decided to try an ice shaver we spotted at Target, the Back to Basics Electric Ice Shaver. The kit is very reasonably priced at US$19.99 and comes with the shaver machine, two ice molds, four paper cups and four spoon straws. The flavored syrups were sold separately in a three-pack assortment for US$8.99. Silicone cone cups are also sold separately for US$4.99.
Each round plastic ice molds hold 1 cup (240 ml) of water and makes about two cones if you don’t pile the ice high. If you want to pile up a big rounded mound of ice, you’ll only get one cone per mold plus a little extra. For our family of five we use three ice rounds each time, which keeps the servings at a perfect size for our young boys.
We found the machine very easy to use. Out of the box it’s in three pieces: base, blade assembly, and the top (with the motor). Just snap the round blade assembly in place, make the ice, put it into the shaving area, place the motor on top, and press the big blue top button.
The underside of the motor has a rotating metal plate that grips the ice and spins it across the blade.
The blue knob on the base allows you to choose coarse or fine shavings. We like the coarse shavings, but of course that is a matter of personal preference.
The shaving process goes quickly, taking less than 30 seconds to fill a cone. The ice did spray around a bit, but it’s just water and easy to clean up. The machine does not completely shave out each round, leaving about 1/8-inch (3 mm) of ice once it stops shaving. We tried stacking leftover rounds of ice and shaving them, but obviously there is no friction between the pieces of ice, so they just slice around without shaving.
The blue arm that holds the cones is removable so you could use a bowl or cup instead of a cone if desired.
We have only had the ice shaver for about one month, so I can’t speak to the long-term durability, but based on our observations we think it’s a good family size machine. If you are planning to use this at a party, we suggest having at least one more unit and lots of ice rounds or bagged ice to keep up with demand. The machine will work with ice cubes or bagged ice, though the texture is not as flaky because the ice cubes don’t compress evenly like the rounds.
The syrups have a fake fruit taste, but you could make your own by straining fresh fruit juices and mixing with a simple syrup with flavors like mango lime, watermelon, lemon blueberry, strawberry, cherry, raspberry, lemon lime, pineapple, and passion fruit.
Overall, we like the ice shaver for the flaky ice texture, ease of use, and affordable price.
[I purchased this item.]
The bottom line:
Pros: Flaky ice, easy to use, affordable.
Cons: Ice disks are relatively small. Have to make several ice disks in advance if making shave ice for a crowd. Ice rounds don’t shave down completely.
Price: US$19.99 retail
Dimensions: 8.5″ x 7.5″ x 13”
Colors: white and blue
Warranty: 1 year limited
Company website: www.focuselectrics.com