A bloater is a pickle that explodes. Gas builds up inside the cucumber and the cucumber explodes. The bacteria go hog wild and transform its slug-like guts into a gooey, disgusting substance that gets all over your arm. I showed up to the party smelling like bacteria. I was so excited to tell everyone how a bloater happens.
A combination of things make a bloater happen. The main factors are (a) heat, (b) brine that's not salty enough, and finally (c) cucumbers that are too big. The cores of bigger cucumbers are foamy, not dense. I started this batch of half sours about two days before the record exploding heat wave whacked us this week. I also used somewhat larger cucumbers than I'd normally want to. The combination of those two factors resulted in the disaster shown above: TOTAL PICKLE MELTDOWN. My crock got too hot and my pickles were too hollow, and one of them exploded, and the bacteria went nuts and ruined everything. I could have salvaged a couple of the smaller ones (they were still firm), but I didn't. I went to the party instead.