How To Make a Perfect Shave Ice

October 1, 2013

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to be in this business but there are a couple of things to know in order to produce a product that will keep customers coming back  We have worked hard at the events we do to keep our customers happy and to look for us every year!!

In order to make a perfect shave ice you need perfect machines, flavors and perfect ice.  Since you can buy the perfect flavors and machines from me I'll just concentrate on the ice in this article.

Step 1..Make sure that your ice will work well in your machine.  For block shavers you must use a clear ice.  DO NOT use compressed ice as it does not do a good job and will quickly dull your blade.  For cube shavers do not use what is called flaked ice, the kind that is really made only for soft drinks.  Cocktail ice (those with holes through it) does not work well either.  Use cubed or bagged ice that you can buy at a convenience store.

Step 2..Do not use the ice directly out of a freezer.  Put your ice in picnic cooler as a staging area.  The perfect temperature of ice to be shaved is 28 degrees.  I haven't found where to insert the thermometer to take the temperature, so I just let my ice start to melt or sweat a little before I shave.  If you use ice directly from the freezer it will make a powder and will also dull your blade.

Step 3..Use the proper container.  I use the Flower Cups pictured above.  I only do special events and I have found that I can get a higher price and the attractiveness of the serving gets me more customers and beats the competition.  Some people can't get past the cost of these and want to use a cheaper container.  I will agree that with a daily operation where price is important that it is a good idea to use the styrofoam.  Regardless, use a wide brim container.  This gives you more surface to flavor and less of a drop to the bottom of the cup.  Real shave ice flavoring is made to encompass the snow and provide colorful and flavorful taste from top to bottom.  The flavoring will slowly settle through the snow as the customer eats it.  Because of the slow movement I do not recommend a clear container.  Dart makes a good cup to use for this product.  You can use 6,8,12 or 16 ounce sizes.  They are called squat cups.  On spoons.  I use spoon straws, not because I like them so much but because they are easier to carry to events.  Also, when you use plastic spoons customers sometimes want a straw.  The spoon straw is both.

Step 4..Place the sweating ice in your machine.  While pressing your foot pedal take the adjustment down to where the machine isn't shaving and then bring it up to where you are getting the texture you want while getting the production you want.  When you make your serving check to see if it glistens, that is shining in the sunlight.  If it does, it is too coarse!  The serving should be just like snow which has more of a  matte appearance.  If you can't attain this texture you probably have a dull blade or you bought the wrong machine!

Step 5..As you begin to shave ice for a customer, wear a plastic glove (I use baggies) on the hand that is going to touch the snow.  Some health departments do not require this but the CUSTOMER does!  As you shave, slowly rotate the cup or container and guide the snow into the cup with your gloved hand.  DO NOT squeeze the air out of the snow!  This makes a snow cone type of serving!  As you rotate you are shaping the snow until you get the desired size.  I always try to make the serving around 2 to 3 inches above the cup.  Some people use a funnel to shape the top of the snow.  I guess this is OK as long as you don't squeeze the air out.

Step 6..To flavor the serving, start on the sides and rotate upward to the top.  This takes a little practice to make sure you are getting enough flavoring.  A perfect shave ice is when the snow has flavor throughout the serving but not a puddle at the bottom when the customer has consumed it.  One other thing.  Hold the pour bottle by the neck.  You have more control than if you hold it by the barrel.

Step 7..Hand the customer the serving and say $3.00 please....


mary said on March 9, 2016 - 2:22pm:

this is a great article! for block shavers, are there any molds you recommend to freeze the ice in? will tap water create clear ice? i tried to freeze tap water in a circular container but the ice ended up cracked in the middle when i pulled it out of the

Melissa said on August 7, 2016 - 2:20pm:

What type of machine do you recommend? Is 500lbs of ice per hour a good rate? What is too expensive?

skip said on August 11, 2016 - 12:19pm:

Excellent, concise and easy to understand description of how to deliver a well prepared product to the customer.

Donna's Shaved Ice said on September 15, 2017 - 6:35pm:

You were very helpful the problem I have at times flavor doesn't always go all the way to the bottom or even in the middle. I pour a lot in the middle and around the sides.

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