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Swan, Hatsuyuki, Fujimarca: How Do They Differ From Less Expensive Generic Machines?

20 Sep

Most likely, one of the first things you did when deciding to utilize a block ice shaver was peruse Ebay for a deal on your very first major purchase. Let’s face it, they ain’t cheap! And while scrolling page after page, you find very simlar looking machines for a fraction of the cost. Hmmm…you wonder…..could they do the job? As we mentioned in another blog post, the machine you choose will be one of the most expensive purchases you will make. And who doesn’t want to save a little moolah when establishing a new business?

The first thing we notice about the generic brand, is the lack of a protective shield where the ice block is placed. Who wants a 5 pound block of ice to spin out of control at your face?…any takers? Moving on. With the exception of the Fujimarca, each of the brand name machines have nozzle at the base where a drain hose can be attached. This is especially important because the residual ice will melt and you’ll have a wet mess if it doesn’t have somewhere to drain to. Not to mention, the melted ice can drip down onto the foot pedal or other electrical plug and cause a hazard. We believe this might be one of the reasons the Fujimarca is not NSF approved, but eh, who knows? A large pan and hose can be purchased to catch and drain the water  so we guess it’s not too much of an issue but still something to consider.

One of the few things that need to be maintained on these commercial ice shavers is the blade. Since blades are unique to each machine, it seems that it would be difficult to find replacement blades or any other parts for that matter. Which brings us to our most important concern. Customer service. These generic machine are mass produced in China while Hatsuyuki, Swan, and Fujimarca have been long-standing makers of ice shavers and their machines have been proven to last through years of heavy use. If nothing else, the reputation of the brand name shavers would give us enough reason to purchase one.

What kind of machine do you use and why?


Featured Business: Kianakai Shave Ice

1 Sep

As our passion for shave ice and its community grows, we would like to feature authentic Hawaiian shave ice businesses here in our blog. Our first cameo appearance is made by Kianakai Shave Ice based in Long Beach, California. They serve their ‘ono shave ice at farmer’s markets and will come out to cater your special event! Be sure to visit their website and Facebook to see what they have planned next.

I am a nurse by trade but I love serving our delicious shave ice to people here in So Cal. I love providing and educating people in what real shave ice should taste like. Most people here have not tasted shave ice since their last visit to Hawaii. And many have not tried it with ice cream, snow cap, mochi or azuki beans….. I am here to show them all what they are missing!…. I take pride in my business as an owner and consumer as well…. I Love Shave Ice!
Eric, Kianakai Shave Ice

Kianakai Shave Ice, named after Eric's own keiki!

The Importance of Tempering Ice

8 Aug

As you’ve all probably heard by now, it’s is MUY IMPORTANTE that your ice is tempered before shaving. Why, you ask? Don’t ask, just do it. Depending on the type of shave ice business that you have, the flow of customers will vary and so will the timing of taking out a block of ice to temper.

Ice is a funny thing and it reacts differently to temperature, environments (have you ever shaved ice outside with a breeze? Literally, hell), and other variables. In our experience, if your ice is too cold/hard, the shavings will not adhere to each other or hold its shape. Don’t ask us why, we’re not scientists, we just know it happens :O There is even the occasion when ice is SO cold that the shavings  freeze back together, losing its soft, fluffy texture.  Not to mention very hard ice is harsh on your blade. When you first take a block of ice out of the freezer, it’s opaque. When your bring your ice out to temper, you want it to “sweat” and have a glossy, clear appearance. This is will give the best shave.

Before tempering: ice has a cloudy, opaque appearance.

After tempering: ice has a glossy, clear appearance

Shave Ice Syrups: Concentrate vs. Ready-to-Use

18 Jul

A common question we get is whether a business should use RTU (ready-to-use) syrups or concentrate. Of course there will pros and cons to both options, so here are some things to consider.

RTU Syrups:


  • RTU syrups  don’t require any mixing or purchase of additional ingredients. Convenience is a big advantage. Just open the bottle, add a pour spout, and you’re ready for business.


  • Most RTU syrups use controversial HFCS or high fructose corn syrup. Check the ingredient list on your chosen brand.
  • If you will be ordering your product online, you will pay a significant amount more for shipping due to the “water weight”.
  • RTU syrups are 50-60% more expensive than if you mix the syrups yourself.
  • You will create more waste, since you will go through your product much faster.



  • Concentrates require a sweetener, sugar being the common option. Sugar is naturally more flavorful than what you will find in a bottled RTU syrup.
  • Because concentrates do not contain any sweetener, it gives business owners the option of offering sugar-free flavors. You may substitute sugar with Splenda, agave nectar, or any other type of sugar alternative.
  • Concentrate is the most economical for shipping rates and price per unit.
  • Shave ice concentrate can keep for up to a year, depending on the brand. Only the amount needed can be made, preventing spoilage and waste of unused syrup.
  • You can advertise your product as being “homemade”.


  • Mixing concentrate for your homemade syrups will take time.

Creating Shave Ice Cream Flavors

5 Jul

Many business owners opt to offer the sweetened condensed milk as a topping, also called a snow cap. It gives Hawaiian shave ice a velvety, cream texture that we especially love on root beer. YUM! But if you want to add a little something different to the menu, cream flavors can be a fun option. You can charge a little extra for the specialty flavors to offset costs and rotate a different flavor each week!

To make a quart of your homemade cream flavors:

Pour 4 oz. of evaporated milk to an empty quart bottle

Top off with your preferred flavor syrup (citrus or sour flavors are not recommended)

That’s it! Just be sure to keep refrigerated and cool 😉

Now if you would like to make an especially creamy syrup which will create a texture similar to that of ice milk, try the following recipe:

To make a quart of your homemade “ice cream” flavors:

Pour 2 ounces of syrup concentrate with one can of sweetened condensed milk into an empty quart bottle
Fill the quart bottle the rest of the way with milk.

That’s it! Also, keep refrigerated and cool.

*** Careful not to use evaporated milk or condensed milk interchangeably. Although they’re similar in consistency, condensed milk is 40-45% sugar, while evaporated milk is not sweetened. ***

Our favorite flavors to create cream flavors from are strawberry, coconut, and coffee. But be creative, the possibilities are endless!