If you can’t find a source for shave ice, that means you have to make your own. Though a shave ice machine is by no means an essential kitchen gadget, it is definitely a fun one to own. It can be purchased fairly inexpensively online.
Invite over some little friends and make the natural fruit syrups together. The only thing you need to have prepared ahead of time are the frozen ice blocks. Most shave ice machines come with an appropriately-sized container for freezing your ice blocks. Keep some in the freezer all summer for a spontaneous treat.
The fruit syrup possibilities are endless. We are sharing some of our favorite flavors, but experiment with your favorite fruits. The fruit syrups keep in the refrigerator for a few days, so make extra.
We find most of the syrups used in Hawaii to be too sweet and artificial tasting. With these homemade syrups, you control the amount of sugar and also use real fruit.
The kids can help with measuring, and if they are old enough, they can cut the fruit.  Some of the softer fruits can even be cut with dinner knives. Children also always enjoy using a mini-food processor or blender to puree the syrups. 
In addition, using the shave ice machine to turn a block of ice into fluffy, snow-like ice is a delightful experience for little ones. Then comes the best part of picking your flavors and assembling your individual shave ice. 
If you are feeling particularly indulgent, top the shave ice with some ice cream or condensed milk. 
Mango Syrup
Cut one large mango into cubes and cook briefly with ½ cup water and 1-2 tablespoons sugar. You can omit the sugar if the mango is sweet enough, or use less sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, puree in a blender or food processor.
 
Pineapple Syrup
Pulse in the blender or food processor some crushed or sliced canned pineapple. You can leave it chunky or thin it with pineapple or orange juice.
Peach Syrup
Cut up 2 medium-sized peaches or nectarines and cook briefly with ½ cup water and 1-2 tablespoons sugar. You can also puree canned peaches if fresh ones are not in season. This works with any summer stone fruit.
Strawberry Syrup
Slice one cup of strawberries and simmer for a few minutes with ½ cup water and 2-3 tablespoons sugar (use less if berries are sweet). Once sugar is dissolved, squeeze in the juice of ½ lemon. Pulse the mixture a blender or food processor. This works with almost any type of berry.
Simple Syrup
Using a ratio of one part water to one part granulated sugar, add the water and sugar to a small sauce pan and heat until sugar is fully dissolved. The simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed bottle or jar for several months. You can infuse your simple syrup with ginger, lemon, mint, spices or any other flavors. Just add a generous amount of your flavoring (roughly chopped mint leaves, thick slices of ginger, curls of lemon zest, whole spices) and let them steep in the warm syrup for about a half hour, then strain out the solids. You can also add a few drops of food coloring to get some vibrant colors for your shaved ice. This lacks any nutritional value, but sometimes you just want to have some fun!
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are former food columnists for Bay Area Parent. 
 

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