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Shaved Ice

Shaved ice is one colorful confection that can help one cool down from the summer heat!  Ice is piled in a heap in bowls or glasses, flavored with colorful syrups made from fruits or artificial flavorings.  Others even up the game with toppings like ice cream, condensed milk, mochi balls, marshmallows, beans, and fresh fruits.


  • The shaved ice has quite a colorful and far-reaching history; there were tales about the Roman Emperor allegedly sending his workers to the mountains to collect snow, which was then flavored with honey and fruits.
  • Though ice shave is mostly associated with Hawaii, the first documented shaved ice was in imperial Japan. Called kakigori, this is made of fresh ice during the coldest winters of the Land of the Rising Sun, and was only served to royalty.
  • The Japanese immigrants brought this dessert concept to Hawaii in the mid-1800s when they came to the islands to work in the sugar and pineapple fields.
  • Many countries have their own version of this treat, like the Philippine halo-halo, South Korea’s patbingsu or bingsu, Taiwan and China’s bao bing, Thailand’s nam kang sai, Indonesia’s es campur, Malaysia’s ais kacang, Puerto Rico’s piragua, Mexico’s raspado, Peru and Bolivia’s shikashika, India’s gola or chuski.
  • Former POTUS Barack Obama is a fan of this cool dessert and he has a favorite shaved ice shop that he and family visit every time they are in Hawaii.

Buying Guide

Shaved ice and snow cones are sometimes used interchangeably, both using ice and syrup or flavorings.  But the difference boils down to the ice particles:  snow cones have bigger granules or larges pieces of ice, while shaved ice is finer and light and can be compared to snow.

Production & Farming in Texas

With Texas being the second hottest state in the U.S., as recorded this 2019, shaved ice is one great cooling option, and a lucrative business idea!  Shaved ice is everywhere, in any part of the state, from being one of the offered menu options of dessert shops, to sellers who focus on different varieties of shaved ice.  And one does not really need to wait for summer to grab this icy treat; it will always be a cool and sweet snack option!

Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals

Since shaved ice has a very basic list of ingredients, namely:  ice and syrup or flavoring, and is usually served fresh, it should be very easy to monitor what goes into your snack.  It is better if the syrup or flavors are naturally made from fruit extracts, as well as the toppings.  But many of these flavorings are usually artificial and loaded with additives, as well as artificial colors.  It would also be a good idea to be conscious of the toppings, if these are mostly fresh and naturally made.

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup – The HFCS is an artificial sugar that is made from corn syrup. Commercial producers of products usually use this, as the HFCS is a cheaper substitute to natural sweeteners. But overconsumption of items with this ingredient can be linked to several serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, and heart disease.
  • Sodium Benzoate – This can be derived by combining benzoic acid and sodium hydroxide. Benzoic acid can be found in cinnamon, cloves, tomatoes, berries, plums, apples, and cranberries.  It is usually added to processed foods and beverages to extend shelf life.  The U.S. FDA has declared it to be “Generally Recognized as Safe”. However, there are studies that these substances may form benzene or a known carcinogen if combined with items like ascorbic acid.  Regulations and standards regarding the amount of this preservative have already been changed to prevent this.
  • Artificial Flavors – these are flavorings added in our food that is not extracted from organic sources such as plants or animals. These are usually present in processed foods and snacks. But while others do not recommend taking in food with anything artificial, there are no reported significant health risks associated with taking in these artificial flavors.
  • Artificial Food Color – These make the food colors pop and look so much brighter and appetizing.  However, there are some food colors and food dyes that have been banned from some countries as research findings have highlighted them to cause allergic reactions, tumors, and cancers.  These banned food dyes are Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 3, Yellow 6, and Red 3.
  • Citric acid – This is commonly found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and the likes. However, there is also a manufactured form that is used as a food additive and can also be found in cleaning agents and nutritional supplements. This manufactured citric acid is used to preserve the ingredients, to boost acidity in its contents, and to enhance the flavor. This is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.


Shaved ice is usually served in clear plastic cups and dome lids, which show the colorful confection inside.  Colorful plastic and paper cups, as well as bowls, are also commonly used. For those sold at the supermarkets or takeaway options, some are sold in tubs.


Shaved ice can be eaten in its basic form or just the ice with the colorful syrup.  The syrup can also be made from fruit extracts or purees or the various artificial flavorings.  Toppings such as fresh fruits, beans, jelly, condensed milk and more can also be added to make this dessert even more decadent.


If for some reason, you were not able to finish your shaved ice, or you created your own batch, keeping it in the freezer will not be a great idea as it will just freeze into one solid block or it will completely melt if stored in the refrigerator. One method is to alternate it by switching it from the freezer and refrigerator and constantly stirring it to keep it soft.  But of course, we all don’t have that much time to do that. So if it does turn solid, the key is to smash or crush the ice into smaller pieces and then put it into a blender, slushy machine or a shaved ice maker.

Meanwhile, syrups for shaved ice must be kept in a dry and cool place, and can last for up to a year, or even up to 2 years.

Homemade Shaved Ice

A cup (or more!) of shaved ice, right at home!  Try this very simple Fresh Berry Shaved Ice recipe by David Tanis.

Aside from berries, you may use any other fruits or syrups you prefer, either made from scratch or store-bought.


  • 8 oz. raspberries or blackberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 to 6 cups shaved ice.


  1. To make the shaved ice, you may use a manual ice crusher or a heavy-duty blender or food processor.  Pulse the ice cubes until it is crushed and flaky, but make sure it will not reach a slushy consistency.
  2. Over medium heat, combine the berries and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Make sure to stir so the sugar can be fully dissolved.
  3. Simmer until sauce has thickened slightly or about five minutes.
  4. Let the berry sauce cool down completely.
  5. Time to assemble your snack! In an ice cream glass or bowl, pile about a cup of shaved ice.  Then spoon about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the berry sauce on top.



  • Serving Size: 1 Cone, (172g)
  • Calories: 29
  • Carbs: 7.4g 2%
  • Sugar: 5.1g
  • Fiber: 0g 05
  • Protein: 0g 0%
  • Fat: 0g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 4.6mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Calcium 0.20%
  • Iron 0.1%
  • Potassium 3.1mg 0%

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